Chicken salad is a favorite dish for any summer dinner or barbecue. Recently, I found several variations on the classic, so today I’m sharing the fun. Included today is a basic chicken salad recipe and several twists on the classic chicken salad.
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The ways you can use chicken salad are almost endless. Use classic chicken salad or any of the following variations on your favorite bread. Additional uses for chicken salad are as a hearty dip, on butter lettuce as a dinner salad, on top of rice, or stuffed into a delicious ripe avocado or hearty baked potato.
Classic chicken salad: 4 cups diced cooked chicken (see note below), 1 stalk celery cut into 1/4-inch dice, 4 green onions trimmed and thinly sliced, 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon or fresh dill, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons salt and a gentle grind of the pepper mill.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, scallions and herbs. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the chicken and mix until gently combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: Recipes sometimes note that the chicken should be poached but I’ve used oven or grill roasted chicken. Be sure to not over cook the chicken or it will be dry. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the thigh. The temperature should be 165 degrees and the juices in the inner cavity will be clear yellow rather than cloudy red or pink. Serves four.
Mediterranean: Mix 4 cups chopped cooked chicken with 2 tablespoons capers, 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, 1/4 chopped red onion, 1/4 cup crumbled feta and lightly dress with Italian dressing.
Chinese chicken: Mix 4 cups shredded cooked chicken with 2 cans mandarin oranges drained, 1 cup shredded cabbage, 1/2 cup roasted peanuts and purchased sesame-ginger dressing. Sprinkle on green onions.
Creamy cobb: Mix 4 cups chopped cooked chicken with 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs, several slices of crumbled bacon and 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes. Lightly dress with blue cheese dressing.
California dreamin': Mix 4 cups shredded cooked chicken with 1 cup baby arugula, 1 avocado cubed, chopped pistachios and EVOO mixed with a splash of orange juice. Top with sprouts. Serve on sprouted-grain bread.
Backyard barbecue: Mix 4 cups shredded cooked chicken with 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 chopped onion, 1/2 cup grilled corn kernels. Lightly dress with a mixture of barbecue sauce and 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise. Top with coleslaw and serve on a hamburger bun.
Fruity Waldorf: Mix 4 cups chopped cooked chicken with 1 cup halved red and green grapes, 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, freshly cracked pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped dill and 1 cup yogurt. Serve on sliced brioche.
Curry chutney: Mix 4 cups chopped cooked chicken with raisins or currents, 1 apple sliced into matchsticks. Mix 1 tablespoon curry powder with 1 cup mayonnaise. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon mango chutney. Serve on warm naan.
Middle Eastern: Mix 4 cups chopped cooked chicken with 1 can garbanzo beans, 1/2 cup chopped cucumber, 1/2 cup sliced radishes, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Dress with 1/2 cup EVOO mixed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Serve on pita bread.