Creamy Crunchy Chicken Salad

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chicken salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Last week, my friend Rachel and I were chatting over IM during work and we decided that we needed to take advantage of the worldly culture that the great city of Chicago has to offer by bringing a picnic to a free international jazz concert in Millennium Park. It took a little bit of convincing (and the promise of a few bottles of wine) to convince her husband that a multicultural concert in the park was exactly how he wanted to spend his Thursday night, but he relented and the menu planning begun.

chicken salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

We had a lot of grand plans for a sun-dried tomato dip, pasta salad and cheese and crackers but we also decided that we needed some form of a main course – heartier than cheese, but easy enough to transport and eat on paper plates in the park. I had chicken in my fridge and immediately knew I wanted to make chicken salad.

Because the outing was impromptu and I needed to shower, cook and finish my work (and not in that order), I didn’t want to use anything that wasn’t already in my fridge or pantry. Celery is a perfect way to add bulk and crunch to chicken salad to offset the creaminess of the dressing and the tangy cranberries add a touch of sweetness.

Serve this on whole grain bread as a sandwich, over spinach or greens as a salad or even on top of crackers for a quick lunch or light dinner.

chicken salad

Photo; Leigh Loftus

Creamy Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Almonds
Author: 
Recipe type: Weeknight Cooking, Weekend Cooking, Cooking for a Crowd
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped celery
  • ⅓ cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup (about 2 ounces) coarsely chopped roasted almonds
Instructions
  1. Poach chicken: Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full of water; bring to a boil.
  2. Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.
  3. Combine mayonnaise and the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add chicken, ⅓ cup celery, cranberries, and almonds; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I just adore a nice chicken salad, and this one sounds amazing. I love how you’ve got sweet and savoury and crunchy all together. I can tell this would be delicious.
    *kisses* HH

  2. says

    I love the sweet chewiness of the cranberries with the crunch of the almonds! I use lots of these same ingredients in my tuna salad so I know this is some good stuff!

  3. says

    This chicken salad sounds perfect for any outdoorsy activity, and it sounds a lot lighter than a lot of other chicken salad recipes that I have found online recently. I’m going to have to give this a shot, as I’m a huge chicken salad fan. And I love not using a TON of mayo in it. Thanks, Maris!

  4. says

    I love a good chicken salad! The addition of the dried cranberries and almonds sounds delicious. We have those Jazz in the Park concerts downtown on Thursdays here also. Not as grand as Chicago’s I’m sure but fun to pack wine, food and chairs for a fun night of music and people watching ;)

  5. says

    I love adding celery to my creamy salads! This is a great way to change up chicken salad, looks great! I’m a little jealous of your Chicago culture :) We don’t have an abundance of that in my little suburban town…or maybe I need to open my eyes a little more :)

  6. says

    Your killing me. I can’t keep up with you and your posts! I have missed like 3 since last friday? Anyway, I love love me some chicken salad. It is all I craved with my first son and it is all I am craving now while begin prego with this little one. Your version sounds perfect with the almonds and cranberries. I like a little crunch to my chicken salad too!

  7. says

    A very delicious combination of flavours. I love chicken salad..but never tried a creamy one…the addition of nuts and cranberries must have added so much more flavours and textures to the sandwich.

  8. says

    This would be a dream picnic for me. Music, wine and sandwich with friends in the park. I like the addition of cranberries in the sandwich .. it will add that refreshing sweet taste in every bite.

  9. says

    I’m a chicken salad freak! Seriously a freak… I love all kinds. I just made some with cranberries and almonds for the 4th of July, but I’ve never thought to use white wine vinegar. Great idea! Also – I’ve never cooked my chicken that way but I’m definitely going to give it a try. Thanks so much!

  10. says

    Sounds like a great Thursday night! I hope the concert was good–I have only been to Chicago once, but Millennium Park was one of my favorite stops (along with deep dish pizza and the art museum, haha). :)

  11. says

    I have been craving chicken salad lately so this post is quite timely. I really love the idea of using dried cranberries and almonds to make the chicken salad different. I know what I’m making tomorrow.

  12. says

    What a wonderfully gourmet twist on the usual mayo central chicken salad! I love dried cranberries and almonds in everything; looking forward to all Chicago offers when I visit in August!

  13. says

    Chicken salad sandwich is one of my favorites! Love the addition of cranberries AND roasted almonds. That sounds fantastic together.

  14. Lisa of Lisa's Yarns says

    This sounds delicious. I have been eating the same things for lunch week after week, I should mix it up and make this!!

  15. says

    Chicken salad on crackers in a park with music and wine! Why would anyone have to be convinced? This is one of my favorite things about summer is music festivals/events and picnics in the park. Great picnic menu.

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