My friend Rebekah is married to a tall, dark, handsome Iranian. Over the years I have worked with her, she has learned to cook a number of Iranian dishes. One time she brought a dish into share (we have a little lunch group, low-cal, where some of us occasionally make lunch and bring it in to share). I have to confess that I don't remember what Rebekah made for lunch that day. I only remember the bread she brought. It was a wonderful Iranian flatbread called Barbari. Rebekah had brought it to share because this flatbread is fat free--a plus for a lo-cal lunch. After we had all eaten, there was flatbread leftover. Several pieces. I ate it all. Toasted, it was heavenly. A nice, light brown flatbread topped with sesame seeds. Toasted. Maybe I put some butter on it after I toasted it. Maybe it wasn't fat free then.
Anyway, it's not a bread Rebekah buys locally. Friends of hers go to Chicago to shop the Middle Eastern food stores there and bring things back. Like the Barabari. So on the first day of this new year, Rebekah brought me an entire package of Barbari. Two and a half feet of it! As I was carrying it gingerly out of work later, Ryan (you know, the one who loves the pineapple angel food cake) asked, "Is that a skateboard made of bread?" It certainly was large enough. So I took my flat of bread home, and thought about what to make with it.
So I noodled around on the web looking for a salad that might be served with this Iranian flatbread, and came up with Salad Olivieh. Supposedly Russian in origin, it is served throughout the Middle East. The salad is a cross between chicken and potato salad. I like chicken salad, and I like potato salad, but I had never thought of combining them. So I continued to examine recipes and soon realized that there was no way I could follow a traditional recipe for Salad Olivieh, which calls for anywhere from two to three CUPS of mayonnaise, and still serve it to the lo-cal lunch group. So, what follows in the recipe I created. It is based on a traditional Salad Olivieh, but features lower calorie ingredients.
Persian Potato Chicken Salad
- 2 chicken breasts
- 3 small, plain baked potatoes
- 5 carrots
The recipe I was very roughly following called for 2 cups of shredded chicken. You could buy a roasted chicken and use the meat from that. But since I was starting from scratch, I roasted two whole chicken breasts with the potatoes and carrots. Then I chilled them, got rid of any residual chicken fat, and cubed the potatoes, chicken, and potatoes. I didn't shred the chicken because I was cubing everything else, and did the chicken that way too. Not traditional.
In a bowl, to the above ingredients, add:
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, also chilled and cubed
- 1 cup frozen peas (you could also use a frozen peas and carrot mix)
- 1/2 cup sweet pickles, diced
The traditional recipe calls for a 19-ounce jar of Persian pickles. I have never eaten a Persian pickle, and have no idea what their flavor is like. I substituted gherkins because I had them in the fridge. I put in only half a cup because I didn't want them to overwhelm the flavor of the other ingredients. Again not traditional.
For the dressing:
- 1 cup fat-free mayo
- 1 tablespoon honey mustard
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Whisk all of the above ingredients in a bowl, and then gently stir the mixture into the other ingredients. As I mentioned the more traditional recipes all call for lots of regular mayonnaise. They also use more olive oil, and lemon juice. I used less olive oil, lime juice instead of lemon (personal preference), and fat free mayo. VERY not traditional. This was plenty of dressing for my tastes.
I took the salad into the lunch group, and served it with toasted pieces of the Barbari Bread. Rebekah said it was delicious, but had I not told her it was my version of the Persian chicken and potato salad, she never would have known. Her husband's family always shreds the chicken, uses the correct pickles, and uses a LOT of mayonnaise. I was going to take a picture of the other members of the lo-cal lunch group enjoying the salad and Barbari, but by the time I remembered to get out my camera, their plates were clean.
I will certainly make this salad again. But I may have to try and make the Barbari myself because I don't know when I'll get more. Thanks Rebekah!