The recipe below is a combination of fruit, veggies, nuts, and spices that I found delicious. Feel free to substitute from the list of variations: just think about how the flavors and textures will both work together and counterpoint each other.
The beauty of chicken salad is the interplay of creamy, crunchy, savory, sweet, tart, and spicy. Whichever ingredient you choose, be sure to hit all these notes while keeping the basic proportions and you will be fine. Remember sometimes less is more: too many ingredients will overwhelm your palette and taste muddled.
- 2 cups chicken, cut into cubes or shredded
- 1 apple diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 cup celery – about 4 stalks
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup mayo (extra credit if you make your own!)
- 1 T lemon juice – the juice from half a lemon
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
- herbs: dill, basil, tarragon, mint, oregano, coriander
- spices: mustard, curry powder, ginger, paprika, chipotle chile powder, cumin
- nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds
- fruit: grapes (whole or sliced in half), pear, mandarin orange, pineapple, mango
- veggies: cubed avocado, diced tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, onion
- protein: tuna, salmon, turkey
- tangy: orange juice, pineapple juice, soy sauce, vinegar
- creamy: yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream, coconut cream
- misc flavors: crumbled gorgonzola, green chile, bacon, sesame oil, sweet pickles, white wine
- Chop up everything.
- Mix the dressing: mayo, lemon juice, parsley, spices.
- Combine the dressing with everything else. Enjoy!
Most of the time that goes into this recipe is chopping stuff up.
How small to chop? Personal preference.
Put the mayo, lemon juice, parsley, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and mix them up.
You may want to add some fresh ground pepper at this point too, and salt if you are into that sort of thing.
Or you can wait until the end so you can add them to taste.
Mix it all up. Then set it aside for a sec.
Put all the crunchy yummies in a bigger bowl.
Pour your dressing on.
Mix it all up!
It will usually taste even yummier after being chilled a few hours as the flavors will meld and be more complex.