This is one of my go-to dishes as soon as blood oranges start to appear in the shops in late winter. The heartiness of bolstering chickpeas, buttered almonds and smoky chicken makes for a supremely satisfying plateful, not to mention one packed with nourishing ingredients. Vegetarians can swap the chicken for slices of chargrilled halloumi, which are just as good (they don’t need marinating, just slice and grill). Try to get very good-quality chickpeas for this – they should be tender and creamy, not hard like bullets. You can also use normal oranges, but add a good squeeze of lemon juice to the chickpeas to compensate.
For the chicken
3 garlic cloves, crushed
zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
2 chicken breast fillets, cut into 2.5cm strips
For the salad
3 blood oranges
1 or 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
80g whole blanched almonds
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
a generous pinch of salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
150g curly kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 x 400g cans of good-quality chickpeas, rinsed and drained
20g basil leaves, roughly torn
Make a marinade. Combine all the ingredients for the chicken, except the chicken itself, in a small bowl. Add the chicken strips and toss well to coat, then refrigerate for 30–60 minutes.
When you’re ready to make the salad, grate the zest from two of the oranges. Place it in a bowl with the chilli. Cut the skin off all the oranges with a sharp, serrated knife, then cut the orange segments away from the pith. Do this over the bowl containing the zest and chilli to catch any juice. Place the orange segments in the bowl, then squeeze in any juice from the remaining pith too, then discard the pith. Set aside.
In a large, non-stick frying pan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the almonds and cook for 2–3 minutes, until starting to turn golden, then add the garlic and cook until that also starts to turn golden (a further 2–3 minutes). Season with the salt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the almonds and garlic from the pan and set them aside on a piece of kitchen paper.
This The Best Black Barley Chickpea
Add the onion and kale to the butter in the pan with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften, adding a splash of water if they start to catch or burn. Add the chickpeas and the orange mixture, and cook for another 2–3 minutes, until everything is warmed through. Add the almonds and garlic back to the pan along with half the basil, and stir everything together. Turn off the heat, add the remaining olive oil and mix well, tasting for seasoning.
To cook the marinated chicken, pre-heat a griddle pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through – the juices should run clear and the meat should be opaque. (You can do this in a non-stick frying pan if you don’t have a griddle pan.)
Divide the salad between four plates and place equal amounts of the chicken strips on top. Garnish with the remaining basil.