Your New Favorite Chicken Salad Salad Recipe
Think fast – what is your favorite chicken salad recipe of all time (and it can’t be your mama’s)? I grew up eating chicken salad sandwiches from Chick-fil-a…remember those? And, even though I know they weren’t perfectly healthy, I was still sad to see them get cut from the menu. My adult self also loves the chicken salad from Zoe’s. Some of you are probably citing Chicken Salad Chick as the “go to” these days and I have it on my bucket list to try before long. If I’m not grabbing something to-go, though, I do like making a lighter version of this awesome comfort food at home. It takes a little extra time to make it from scratch, but the added love just adds flavor and a sense of accomplishment (usually 😉). In a time where our society is working on health and wellness more than ever, I feel a little better when I cut back on the carbs and incorporate more greens instead.
Healthier Chicken Salad
- Substitute a bed of greens for the traditional sandwich with bread. It’s not necessary every time, but on the days when you need to feel a little lighter, you can still treat yourself and cut back a little.
- Be sure to use organic ingredients whenever possible. Select the most humanely-raised chicken breasts at the grocery store.
- Add ingredients that offer a punch of extra nutritional value. This recipe adds pomegranate seeds – a fun twist to add a fruity tang as well as antioxidants, fiber, and fatty acids. Check out more about these nutritional powerhouses here!
- Include more protein with Greek yogurt as the binding agent.
Chicken Salad Salad
- 3 medium organic, free-range chicken breasts
- ¾ cup toasted, chopped pecans briefly toast in skillet before chopping
- ½ cup Greek yogurt full fat is preferable
- ⅓ cup dried organic cranberries
- ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced include both greens and white ends
- ½ lemon juice, fresh
- 1 tablespoon black pepper freshly ground preferred
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 6 cups baby spinach leaves
- 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce optional
- If desired, add pecan halves to dry skillet and toast over medium heat until you smell a delicate nutty flavor. Gently move skillet while cooking to ensure even pecan contact with skillet surface. Transfer to a cutting board to chop pecan pieces to desired size. One cup of pecan halves will equal 3/4 cup pieces.
- In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt with garlic powder and lemon juice until thoroughly combined. Place in refrigerator to chill while the rest of the meal is prepared.
- Using a grill pan or skillet, coat with avocado oil and warm over medium heat. Generously salt and pepper on each side before adding to skillet. Sometimes, I salt and pepper one side, add the chicken to the skillet - salt and pepper side down - and add more to the bare side while cooking. Reserve about 1/2 tbsp salt for later.
- While the chicken cooks, finish chopping the scallions and green pepper if you did not finish ahead of time.
- Remove the chicken once it is cooked through, approximately 25 minutes - depending upon the size of the chicken breasts. Transfer to a separate bowl and shred with two forks until the chicken pieces are to your desired size.
- Add the Greek yogurt mixture, scallions, green pepper, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, and pecans. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- To make this a chicken salad "salad" place over a bed of greens, like a mixture of baby spinach and shredded romaine lettuce. Or, consider using an ice cream scoop to place one or two "spheres" of chicken salad on a large piece of lettuce.
Make Chicken Salad Your Own
What is especially fun about chicken salad recipes is that you can absolutely have some fun with the ingredients and create a personalized version that will become a secret family recipe. Here are the categories you don’t want to miss:
- Choose your binding agent – I prefer Greek yogurt; most traditional recipes use mayonnaise
- Add tang – lemon juice, cranberries, and pomegranate seeds blend well together in this recipe; many recipes include grapes or apples as fruitty addition. Chopped dill can also add depth of flavor that is quite popular.
- Unless you have a medical issue that restricts sodium intake (we should all watch that), don’t hesitate to add more salt as you combine the ingredients. Taste as you go!
- Complete the flavor profile with a hint of nuts, provided you don’t have a nut allergy. Almonds and pecans are perfect!
- Adjust the sizes of the chicken pieces – either cut into cubes or shred.
Heat the skillet well before adding chicken to get a nice sear on the chicken, including grill marks if using a grill pan. Don’t forget avocado oil has a high smoke or burn point, so you can heat the skillet to a higher temperature (if needed) with less worry about smoking and the release of free radicals.
What is your summertime comfort food? Share the food that makes you feel like you’ve gotten a hug…we could all use some comfort food right now, for sure. I can’t wait to hear from you and until next time, cheers to your #hearthhealthhappiness!