Vietnamese restaurants taught us to love the fresh roll-up—a cup of lettuce, some cunningly spiced meat, raw vegetables and leaves of basil and fresh coriander—what a way eat, especially now. You can stretch a little bit of this and that into a generous, lovely little feast of Asian-style finger food.
Here, the feast centers on the takeout chicken. With chutney, lemon, herbs, and almonds, the plebeian bird emerges as the classiest of chicken salads. Add the Vietnamese elements, and there’s no need to turn on the stove.
The chicken salad is better if made a day ahead, but don't add the nuts until serving time.
Lettuce Cups and Herbs:
Pull the meat from the chicken carcass, discarding the skin and bones. Cut it into bite-sized pieces.
In a large bowl combine the onions, lemon zest and juice, jalapeno, chutney, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Fold in the chicken. Taste the mix for lemon, mayonnaise, and herbs, adding more as needed. Let it stand 20 minutes to blend flavors, or refrigerate overnight.
To serve, blend the celery and nuts into the chicken mixture. Mound the salad at one side of a big platter. Pile up the lettuce leaves at the other side, and cluster sprigs of herbs in the center. Tuck the radishes and cucumbers next to the herbs.
Put a few herb leaves in the bottom of a lettuce "cup," top them with a spoonful of the salad, a slice each of radish and cucumber, and roll up.
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From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.
Sally Swift is the managing producer and co-creator of The Splendid Table. Before developing the show, she worked in film, video and television, including stints at Twin Cities Public Television, Paisley Park, and Comic Relief with Billy Crystal. She also survived a stint as segment producer on The Jenny Jones Show.