Chicken salad is usually made with some rather boring ingredients. Celery? Ho-hum. Mayo? So white bread. In fact, it is even served on pasty white bread. The recipe I am about to show you tosses the celery, jazzes up the mayo, then delicately adds a few grown-up items, such as white wine and tarragon.
So whats with the California style name, anyway? It's because of the almonds and grapes ... totally! They are just so Golden State-ish. Just like the Beach Boys sound.
No, I don't know what I'm talking about.
Except that I like the Beach Boys. And grapes and almonds. All the above grow (or grew up) in Cali. Groovy, man!
Besides the health benefits of almonds, they give a delicious mix of texture to the salad.
Grapes add a sweet surprise. I prefer red grapes, although I'll tolerate green. theHubby hates red grapes. Thus, greenies in the photos. To tell the truth, I really like red grapes that still come with seeds. I have this theory that the taste gene is irrevocably attached to the seed gene. When seedless grapes came into being, taste was also left behind. If I weren't the only one in the house that liked red, I'd buy them and spend the extra few minutes digging out the seeds.
|The absence of almonds in a few photos |
is because he also doesn't eat nuts.
As for the chicken, because of all the other flavor-laden ingredients, this salad is drool-worthy even if you use the tired ol' white meat that gave its life for that chicken soup you made the other day. But for a truly mind-blowing experience, use store-bought rotisserie chicken, or a homemade roasted Cornish-type hen.
Take a few moments to toast the almonds. The heat turns up enough flavor to drive you wild.
Start with a dollop of mayo, then work your way up. Always easier to add more.
Serve a a main lunch alongside a simple salad, or mound on a serving tray surrounded by Ritz-style crackers as a party appetizer.
Chicken Salad, California Style
Note: can be made up to a day ahead.
Yield: 4 lunch-size servings, or 8-12 party-size appys
White meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken (or roasted and cooled Cornish-style hen)
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbl. dry white wine
2 Tbl. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbl. fresh tarragon leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper (or to taste)
1 cup red or green seedless grapes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Using two forks, shred chicken. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a 2-cup bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, wine, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper.
Gently fold dressing mixture into the chicken. If too dry, add more mayo, a tablespoon at a time. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.
Gently fold in grapes and almonds.
Serve alongside salad, or between 2 slices of challah (or a hearty bread).
|When I said "between," I really meant as a sandwich.|
If not serving right away, store, covered, up to a day in the fridge.