Traditional(ish) Chicken Salad

Traditional(ish) Chicken Salad

Happy Labor Day from Cookies & Kale! I have a love/hate relationship with three-day weekends. I LOVE the extra time to get away with friends and family – however I always come back with a to-do list a mile long because I didn’t get around to completing my chores around the apartment. My go-to lunch for the week after a weekend getaway is chicken salad. It’s quick, easy, and *most importantly* delicious.

The thing I love about chicken salad is that you can dress it up (or down) as much as you want. In a time crunch? Use a rotisserie chicken from your local grocer. Don’t like nuts? Omit them. Prefer red to green grapes? Switch em out. There are endless options to this dish and to be honest, I never usually make it the same way twice. However, I finally found a combo that sticks out more than the others. It is a little more adventurous (and healthy) than your grandma’s tried and true, but is traditional enough to still feel (and taste) like home.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Seasoning blend for chicken (personal preference)
  • 1/2 cup green grapes, halved
  • 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup candied pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup mayo (Dukes, obviously)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic salt

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken in greased glass baking dish and season with seasonings of your choice. I usually use a combo of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning blend. Drizzle 1-2 tbsp of olive oil over chicken. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Take chicken out of oven and let cool. Using a fork, shred chicken. Then, toss shredded chicken in the baking dish to coat chicken in juices and seasonings; transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add chopped celery, grapes, and nuts. Using a spatula, fold in mayo and Greek yogurt. Finish with garlic salt.

Chill for 2-3 hours before serving.

TIPS:

  • Green grapes help counteract the sweetness of the candied pecans. If you choose to sub red grapes, I would opt for regular pecans to help balance the sugar component.
  • I find ½ cup of greek yogurt : ⅓ cup mayo the optimal yogurt : mayo ratio. I find that subbing a portion of the mayo for greek yogurt adds a lightness and sharpness to the chicken salad that doesn’t fully come through with mayo alone. On the opposite side, the mayo adds a fat component that the shredded chicken breasts need. If you have an alternate preference – you can easily sub just mayo or just greek yogurt.
  • I personally feel like you cannot have chicken salad without celery. It adds a crunch and brightness that I find myself searching for if I omit it.
  • I season my chicken breasts heavily so the chicken salad itself doesn’t need much “extras”. Shredding the chicken in the pan it cooked in and then “mixing” it with the juices and seasonings gives the chicken salad an extra “oomph”. However, if you opt for a rotisserie chicken, you may want to add a little extra of whatever your go-to seasoning preference is. I usually season my chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Blend. Sprinkle some garlic salt right before you chill your chicken salad and you’re good to go!
  • I prefer to chill my chicken salad before serving, allowing time for the flavors of the chicken salad to come together.