What’s always funny to me is when people refer to things as “salad” that to me do not constitute a salad—case in point: the ubiquitous “marshmallow salad.” There are zero vegetables and absolutely no redeeming nutritional qualities to them—they are really a dessert, but I suppose by calling it a salad, people feel vindicated in eating it with their dinner.
A few nights ago I had a “salad with chicken.” It was salad greens, with tomatoes, cucumbers, grilled chicken pieces, sauteed red bell peppers, feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. So was that a chicken salad? Well, it was, but not the kind of chicken salad that this recipe entails.
For most Americans, the “chicken salad” is something like 1 cup of mayo, canned chicken, and some chopped celery and salt & pepper. This is kind of the cholesterol bomb lunch equivalent of the marshmallow salad I mentioned above.
My sister-in-law-once-removed (i.e., my sister’s husband’s sister) makes a really good chicken salad that’s considerably healthier, and I’ve tweaked her version a little, and come up with my own version. Most of the ingredients can be substituted, and I’ll make note of other suggestions that are equally good.
1 - 12 oz can of chicken breast (or approximately 1.5 cups of chopped, grilled chicken, whichever you prefer.)
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled, and grated with a cheese grater
3/4 cup “craisins”
4 green onion stalks, cut into rings, about half-way up the green stem…(fresh chives will also suffice if approximately the same amount.)
1/2 cup slivered or chopped raw almonds – make sure the chopped or slivered pieces are small enough to blend in well with the salad’s texture, and just add a bit of crunch and extra protein. Another option is salted, toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts
Optional: 1 apple (preferably something like Gala, Fuji, Cameo, Jonagold…) diced, and/or 2/3 cup red grapes, sliced
2-3 tbsp mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard (or try any other deli mustard that you like)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Mix all together in a bowl until evenly coated, and serve in a tortilla, pita pocket, or with bread or crackers.