This summer, I had the most awesome easy chicken salad recipe ever. That says a lot coming from a person who hates chicken salad. I’ll give you the recipe, but first I’m going to share with you photos from that fateful day where I *gasp* might have been converted to a chicken salad lover.
A few weeks ago, the meat CSA that I belong to, Clark Summit Farm, held a farm tour where we met and mingled with other members (and future entrées). I invited my good friend Kirstin Jackson to come along, and we spent a gorgeous sunny day up in Tomales, breathing in the fresh air and photographing farm animals.
CSA maven Bonnie Azab Powell planned a huge lunch spread that included goodies from CSA members and sandwiches made with a Clark Farm-raised ham. There were cookies, salads, cheese, wine – everything you could possibly think of to make the day absolutely perfect.
Here are a few photos I snapped. And, keep scrolling down for the most fabulous chicken salad recipe you’ll ever make.
Now that you’ve made it this far, I’ll reward you with the incredibly tasty chicken salad recipe that I mentioned above.
As a rule, I hate chicken salad or any other cold dish that has mayonnaise in it. My mom spent years trying to stuff potato salad down my gullet, only to be met with staunch resolve in the form of hot tears and a solidly locked jaw. Try as she might, I would not let that stuff anywhere near my taste buds. Ugh.
But desperation breeds courage, and as I sniffed around the picnic table at the farm, looking for something sans-gluten, my eyes settled on a big, glistening bowl of chicken salad. I was starving, and with little choice other than an overly-admirable helping of ham and cheese, I was forced to dish up a bit of the evil mayo-based demon before me. Kirstin looked on as I portioned out a tiny bite, passed it through my teeth, and with a wrinkled nose, tasted the offending dish.
I have to say, I was shocked at how much I loved this chicken salad recipe. Turns out it was Bonnie who made the salad, which contained crunchy nuts, crisp granny smith apples, and just a hint of citrus and yogurt to round out the mayo-ness that I dreaded. I loved it so much I ran home and emailed her right away, and she was nice enough to share the recipe. Here’s what she sent me:
I made this recipe up a while ago and vary it according to what’s around. Basically, I roast a chicken with just olive oil, salt and pepper, and shred it/chop it. I chop up green onions, celery, and some kind of fruit (apple this time, often tangerine or orange) and a toasted nut (sometimes walnuts; slivered almonds this time). I make the dressing thusly: make my own mayonnaise (with a whole egg and all canola oil, not olive) and use about half that and half plain yogurt, mixed with about 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest, parsley or whatever herb I have, salt, and pepper. Toss everything together except the nuts, leave them last or they get mushy. Adjust for salt and pepper, often add more lemon juice.
From this, I created a step-by-step recipe, which you’ll find below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
- Serves: 6
- Calories: 590
- Fat: 56g
- Saturated fat: 10g
- Unsaturated fat: 41g
- Carbohydrates: 7g
- Sodium: 483mg
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 20g
- Cholesterol: 92mg
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
- 2 green onions, chopped finely
- 2 celery stalks, chopped finely
- 1 tart apple, peeled and chopped
- More salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
- Preheat your oven to 300°F (149°C). Spread olive oil around the surface an oven-proof baking dish, such as a cast iron skillet. Lay down chicken thighs and sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper. Turn thighs over, spreading them out and laying them flat, and sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pepper. Move them around in the pan to make sure they are evenly oiled.
- Bake chicken thighs for 25 minutes. Once they are done, turns thighs out onto a plate and allow to cool completely.
- While thighs are baking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the nuts and roast until they become fragrant and begin to darken, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool fully.
- In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise and yogurt until fully combined. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Dice or shred chicken into small chunks and mix into mayonnaise and yogurt. Add in chopped onion, celery and apple, mixing until completely incorporated. Season with more salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Chill until ready to serve.
- Just before serving, add nuts to salad – if you add them and allow them to sit, the nuts will get soggy.
Variations on this chicken salad recipe:
- This salad is very flexible, according to Bonnie. Feel free to use your favorite fruits in substitute for the apple, such as orange, tangerine, mango or yellow peach.
- Your choice of nuts is also open to experimentation. The first time I had this salad Bonnie used slivered almonds, but it’s also excellent with pecans or pine nuts.
- This recipes makes for a killer chicken salad sandwich. Like, incendiary. Seriously.
- Feel free to swap the lemon juice and zest for orange or lime. Anything will do, as long as it’s fresh.