Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chicken Salad Veronique

I don't know where the name came from, but that's what my mom always called it when we were growing up, so that's what I'm going to call it. 
It is pronounced 'vair-oh-neek', but Peter looks at the name and calls it "chicken salad very unique". Haha! That makes me smile :)

Whatever you choose to call it, this is a great seasonal, summer salad. So seasonal in fact, that the ingredients showed up in a cardboard box on my doorstep this morning. I subscribed to a farm fresh produce box delivery, and this was my first delivery! It is so exciting when the box shows up! It's like Christmas morning... I have no idea what's inside and I just get to rip it open and dig through to find which fresh fruits and veggies were harvested this week :) As I dug through the box, I started registering all the ingredients in my head like puzzle pieces, so that I could play with them in my mind throughout the day to figure out what I could make for dinner.

After I had my fun with the produce box, I went for a run. Though it was only 8:30  in the morning, it was already so sunny and HOT! Days like these remind me of my dad when I was a kid; he would always ask my mom to make 'chicken salad veronique' whenever it was a hot summer day. That's when it clicked for me this morning- I had most of the ingredients in my produce box already! My puzzle pieces were all put together and dinner was solved :)

This salad is cool and refreshing with its lemony dressing and juicy grapes, yet crunchy and hearty with the slivered almonds and the crisp celery.

The recipe below isn't the exact original, I altered it a bit to fit what I already had in my kitchen and to fit what I like. I get asked a lot how I come up with my recipes... this is usually how they start;  just swapping for healthier ingredients, what I have on hand in my kitchen already, and adding other flavors I think would be good complements to the dish. A lot of times I also research about a billion-gajillion other recipes and take bits and pieces that I like and put them together to come up with my own version. At the end of this post, I will outline some of the differences that I made to this original recipe in case you would like to play around with it for your own preferences as well. It's a very adaptable recipe, so feel free to experiment with some of your own changes too!

Ingredients (4 small servings):

  • 2-3 cups Chicken, cooked, cubed, & cooled (about 4-5 chicken breasts)
  • 1 cup seedless Grapes, halved
  • 1 cup Celery, sliced (about 4 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup Almonds, sliced or slivered
  • 1/3 cup Craisins
  • 1/2 cup Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Low Fat Mayo
  • 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Honey
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice (about 2 large, or 3 small lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Mustard Powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Curry Powder

You want to cook your chicken first so that it has time to cool before you assemble your salad (or use cooled leftover chicken).
*Helpful Tip: If you are cooking chicken breast for dinner earlier in the week, just cook some extra and set it aside for this salad for another day's lunch or dinner.*

Prepare the grapes and celery that you need to chop for the salad. And get the rest of the ingredients ready.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, LF mayo, vinegar, honey, lemon juice, ground mustard, and curry. This is your hearty dressing for the salad.

Now, just simply add all your prepared chicken, grapes, celery, almonds, and craisins to the dressing in the bowl and stir to coat. It is ready to eat right away or it is perfectly happy sitting in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Isn't it pretty plated on a bed or ruffly red leaf lettuce :) 
I also garnished it with a little celery leaf and a few craisins for some bright polka dots of color. I always like to garnish with something that actually hints at the flavors that are within the dish. You could also garnish with a little lemon zest too! That could be fun :)

This recipe is great for brunches, for women's teas, wedding showers, for making ahead when you won't have much time later to prepare dinner, or just for those hot summer days :)

Free free to alter and swap ingredients as you please... this is a very 'swapppable' recipe :)
Also, here are the swaps I made from from the original recipe that I told you I would outline to give you some other ideas:
  • Instead of the lemon yogurt that the original recipe calls for, I substituted in real fresh lemon juice and fat free greek yogurt sweetened with a little natural honey
  • Instead of a lemon-lime alcohol bitter, I used a splash of white wine vinegar to get that same bite in the flavor. 
  • It also calls for some diced raw onion, that I omitted completely
  • I used low fat mayo instead of regular
  • I added the craisins- there's no swap here, just added it 'cuz I felt like it, plus I thought it would be nice to add just for the punch of color contrast. 
  • ...Same with the curry. No sub. Just added it entirely. The flavor works VERY well in this dish.
  • It called for deli mustart, but I just used a bit of ground mustard instead
  • I didn't do this, but you could add a little lemon zest into your salad if you really like that fresh lemon flavor, or you can just sprinkle a little zest on top for garnish. 

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