Awesome Chicken Salad

May 16, 2011

This is my favorite chicken salad recipe. It is awesome. I found it after looking for something similar to Trader Joe’s wine country chicken salad (which is delicious but sort of pricey and crazy-high in calories). While I haven’t done a side by side taste comparison, this version comes mighty close. And if you cheat like I do, it only takes a few minutes to prepare.

My lazy/timesaving trick for making chicken salad is to have someone else cook the chicken for you. A pre-cooked whole rotisserie chicken is generally pretty affordable. I just pull the chicken away from the skin and bones with a fork. That sounds gross.

You add some dried cranberries for some sweetness and some pecans and chopped celery for some crunch. Mix it all up.

The dressing consists of mayo, honey, apple cider vinegar and some poppy seeds. I use vegenaise because I think it tastes the best. Full-fat mayo actually tastes a little too heavy to me. If you’re weirded out by vegenaise- don’t be. It’s awesome (that’s my word of the day) but it is kind of expensive.  Instead, you can lighten this up by using reduced fat mayo or sub greek yogurt/sour cream for part of it. The poppy seeds are optional (they’re not gonna make or break the flavor) but I put them in because…why not? They’re fun (but no need to go out and buy them just for this recipe).

The recipe calls for sugar but I leave it out because I think it’s sweet enough with the honey. If you are looking to replicate the Trader Joe’s version, you might want to leave the sugar in because TJ’s is a bit sweeter. After you mix the dressing up, you just toss it in with the chicken.

Make sure it’s all mixed up and then stick it in the fridge.

I think it tastes good with arugula. It also tastes good with bread. Duh.

Other things that taste good in chicken salad: sliced grapes, dried apricot pieces, dried cherries, apple chunks, almonds, walnuts

You can eat it for lunch. You can eat it for dinner. You can take it to a picnic. I’m not sure why it’s called “wine country” chicken salad, but it doesn’t matter:

WINE COUNTRY CHICKEN SALAD WITH CRANBERRIES AND PECANS

from the Star Tribune

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

• 4 c. chopped cooked chicken breast

• 1 c. chopped celery

• 3/4 c. dried cranberries

• 3/4 c. pecan halves

• 1 c. mayonnaise (I used vegenaise)

• 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

• 1 tbsp. honey

• 4 tsp. sugar (I omitted this)

• Sea salt and black pepper to taste

• 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds, optional

Directions

In a large bowl combine chicken, celery, cranberries and pecans; mix well.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, sugar, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until blended and smooth. Stir in poppy seeds.

Pour over chicken mixture, tossing well. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Serve chilled on lettuce leaves or use to make a sandwich.

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