Joanne Weir Follow @ChefJoanneWeir

Pollo Forte (Grilled Chicken Salad with Olives and Sweet and Hot Peppers)

Pollo Forte (Grilled Chicken Salad with Olives and Sweet and Hot Peppers)

In Italy, this colorful salad goes by the name of pollo forte, literally "strong chicken," named for the hot peppers and red pepper flakes that flavor it. It has beautiful color: red, green, and yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and black olives. Sometimes I'll even add a little cooked penne. It's a great dish for a picnic in the vineyards or anywhere under a hot sun for that matter.

Serves 6 to 8

Wine suggestion: Pinot Noir or rosé



6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
1 red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, very thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, very thinly sliced
1 pasilla pepper, very thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 ounces assorted cherry tomatoes (red, yellow, orange,
pear-shaped, grape-shaped), cut in half
1/2 cup brine-cured black olives, preferably Niçoise or Kalamata
40 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips


Heat a charcoal grill.

Brush the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the chicken on the grill rack, 4 inches from the heat source, and grill until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and continue to grill until done, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes. Cut the chicken breast across the grain into very thin strips. Place them in a bowl and add the bell peppers, pasilla and jalapeño peppers, and onions. Season with salt and pepper, and reserve in the refrigerator.

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the vinaigrette to the chicken mixture and return to the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Toss the cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil with the chicken salad. Place in a serving bowl, and serve immediately.