I don’t know about you, but I have often found chicken salad to be a bit of a bore.. I won’t order it out and rarely eat it at parties. In my search for ways to dress it up, I decided to abandon the traditional mayo or miracle whip dressing and make one from scratch. When I am stuck for ideas, I generally use two approaches. I search the net or go to the store. I happened to need storage bins, so the store it was.
My inspiration for this salad actually began with a vegetable not listed in the main ingredients. I was rolling by the fresh herbs (a favorite spot of mine – I ADORE Basil!) and bumped into the cart of fresh broccoli waiting to be stocked. A challenge! Could I sneak a bunch of broccoli into my chicken salad? It looked so beautiful I had to give it a shot.
Then, back to the problem of a dressing… I decided to go with greek yogurt (it was on sale!) and fat free sour cream (a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine that I use whenever possible). I picked up some fresh ginger and chicken tenderloins (although you can easily use any leftover cooked chicken you have at home) and out the door I went.
Down to the NUTS and BOLTS:
Chicken (if not using leftovers):
- 1.5 Lbs Chicken Breast Or Chicken Breast Tenderloins
- 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- (1) 6 Oz Container Greek Yogurt, Plain
- 3/4 c Fat Free Sour Cream
- 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 2 tsp Ginger Root, Peeled And Freshly Grated
- 2 tsp Dried Basil (Told You I Loved Basil!)
- Salt And Pepper to Taste
- 1 Orange Bell Pepper, Finely Diced
- 1 Cup Minced Broccoli Florets
- 2 Med. Stalks Celery, Finely Chopped
- 1 Tart Apple, Finely Diced (1/4″ Cubes)
- 2 Scallions, Finely Sliced
WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL:
The first thing you need to do is cook the chicken or dice your leftover / pre-bought rotisserie chicken. Mix chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl and sprinkle liberally on both sides of the raw chicken. Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Place tenderloins or breasts in the pan and cook 4-5 minutes per side until no longer pink. Remove and set aside to cool.
While the chicken is resting, you can make the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. It is easiest to use a Microplane to grate your ginger after first peeling the rough outer skin with a paring knife or potato peeler. I also use Alton Brown’s adjustable measuring cup ( like this one, but with Alton’s cute face doodle on it) to measure out sticky or viscous items like the sour cream, honey and dijon mustard.
Unless you were super speedy, your chicken should be cool. Dice your chicken in whatever size puts a smile on your face. I like mine rather small, around 1/4″ cubed. My goal is to have all the different types of ingredients nearly equal in size, except the broccoli which we are trying to hide. I just don’t like big chunks in my food, except for in chocolate chunk cookies – but that’s another recipe. Toss the chicken with the dressing using a spoonula or large spoon.
Time to disassemble vegetation. When creating this recipe, I chopped everything by hand and it took quite a while. I am going to suggest you use a food processor. I wish I had! In that case, roughly chop your broccoli florets and process until very small, almost crumb like. Remove from the work-bowl and add to your bowl with the dressing. Next, break down your bell pepper and celery into 2 inch pieces and pulse the processor until you have a fine dice – please be careful not to liquefy! The scallions will need to be sliced by hand. Add all vegetables to the bowl with the chicken and broccoli.
Leave the skin on your apple for the beautiful color and slice first in half, using a melon baller to remove the core. Lay the apple flat side down and slice into a fine dice as you would an onion. Stir into the salad and taste for seasoning. You may need more salt. I chose not to add it to mine because I knew I was serving the salad on my Crostinis which have plenty of salty goodness.
My mother-in-law tested this on mini pretzels and loved it! In that way it would make a great after-school snack. The bit of salt and carb balance the flavors very well. If you made my following Garlic Herb Multi-Grain Crostinis recipe with a party rye or something, I think you would have an excellent appetizer opportunity. This makes a TON of salad – it fed my mother-in-law, myself and husband, my twins, my eldest and we have leftovers.
When I went to photograph the salad, we lined the bowl with baby spinach for the color and topped with fresh-from-the-garden chives that my eldest grew. My husband decided to mix it all up and eat it that way and is glad to report that it was delicious.
Eldest normally hates sauce, said it was yummy. Not overly saucy. Good ginger flavor. Only complaint was that the vegetables were too crispy. Maybe next time I could par cook them? 4 of 5
Both twinkies said yummy and delicious. They each ate a bowlful but once they spied the Crostini wanted nothing else. Definitely got a lot of bang for the buck nutritionally, but they gave it up fairly quickly for them.. maybe it was too crunchy ? It did take a lot of chewing in baby mouths. 3.5 of 5
All grown-ups loved it. 4.25 of 5