I will admit that over the past month I have been more than a little lax with my 5-2 fast diet. Five two effortlessly morphed into six one and for one particularly hectic week reached a rock bottom seven zero. This week well and truly marks the return to a no holds barred five two fast day regime.
What to eat to get back on track? I’m thinking something substantial to ease myself back into the routine. This warm poached chicken salad hits the spot. Studded with just enough toasty fregola (a Sardinian pasta which I adore) to keep the hunger pangs at bay and plenty of charred bitter radicchio and aniseed-y fennel to add freshness and crunch.
A perfect cooler weather salad that makes the most of our wonderful Autumn produce and ticks all the 5-2 fast day meal boxes. Tastes divine, is low in calories and wonderfully vibrant on a plate. On that last point you will have to take my word for it. As you can see my diners wasted no time digging into the platter before I had time to take the crucial photo. Proving yet again that rumbling stomachs wait for no-one.
Warm Chicken And Fregola Salad With Charred Radicchio and Fennel
Serves 4 (322 calories per generous two cup serve)
1 cup toasted fregola sarda (or substitute Israeli couscous prepared to packet instructions) (510 calories)
2 cups chicken stock (40 calories)
1 small head radicchio treviso, cored and sliced (75 calories)
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced into eighths (73 calories)
2 x 150 g chicken breasts, poached (330 calories)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (240 calories)
juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (24 calories)
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (24 calories)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly (chopped 2 calories)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
BRING a saucepan of stock to the boil. Add fregola. Cook for 10 to 12 mins or until al dente (firm to the bite but not hard). Drain and refresh under cold running water.
PLACE cooked fregola into a large bowl. Add one tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Toss well to combine. Set aside.
COAT chopped radicchio and fennel with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
HEAT a griddle pan until smoking. char grill the radicchio and fennel until cooked through but still crunchy.
MEANWHILE shred the poached chicken. Add to the fregola salad together with the charred radicchio and fennel.
DRIZZLE with white balsamic vinegar, season with a little more sea salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
GARNISH with chopped parsley to serve.