The Most Non-Boring Chicken Salad in the Universe!

I used to think that chicken salad was so-o-o-o boring.  Then I tried a forkful of this:

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.