This is a great way to use leftover chicken, or you can poach a couple of chicken breasts. Use the vegetables and herbs below, or substitute your favorites. The lettuce cups work well as a main dish or as a convenient snack; just keep the chicken-noodle mixture in the refrigerator and fill the lettuce cups as needed. The sweet-and-spicy dressing features rose harissa, a North African condiment made with dried rose petals and/or rose water, which soften the spice of the chiles, but any favorite chile paste can be used.
Storage Notes: The chicken-noodle mixture and the dressing can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 3 days. Store the lettuce separately.
Where to Buy: Rose harissa and nigella seeds can be found at Middle Eastern groceries or online. Vermicelli noodles can be found at well-stocked supermarkets, Asian grocery stores or online.
- For the lettuce cups
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 3 cups water
- Kosher salt
- 3 ounces rice vermicelli noodles or angel hair pasta
- 2 1/2 ounces French green beans, thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 bunch (about 1 ounce) fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 heads baby romaine or bibb lettuce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
- For the dressing
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rose harissa, or your favorite spicy chile paste, such as sriracha, chile-garlic paste, gochujang or sambal oelek, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or more to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds, or black or toasted sesame seeds
Cook the chicken: Cut the chicken in half or thirds crosswise, depending on how large the pieces are. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water to a gentle simmer — do not let the water come to a boil — and add the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest pieces of the chicken, 10 to 15 minutes.
When the chicken is done, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a cutting board and let cool. Using two forks, shred the meat, then coarsely chop.
While the chicken is cooking, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the vermicelli or angel hair, letting it soak until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. (If using angel hair pasta, you may want to chop it into bite-size pieces.)
Make the dressing: In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the honey, rose harissa, soy sauce, olive oil, lime zest and juice, and nigella seeds. Taste and season with more harissa, soy sauce and/or lime zest/juice, if needed. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, noodles, green beans, scallions, carrots and cilantro. Toss with the remainder of the dressing. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, as needed.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Divide the chicken-noodle mixture among the lettuce cups and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Serve, with lime wedges, if using.
Adapted from "Simply: Easy Everyday Dishes" by Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley, October, 2020)
Tested by Ann Maloney.
Email questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.