Saturday, July 21, 2012

summer in the south saturdays - (not just any) chicken salad

I think I have been subscribing to Cooking Light magazine longer than any other I get.  I just can't hardly wait until one shows up in the mailbox, and by about day 28 or 29, I'm getting antsy and wondering if it's even coming at all.  Crazy, I know, but it's such a treat for me, and, in fact, I'm not sure I get any more excited about Christmas, to tell you the truth.  It's the simple things, I suppose.

I have a kindred spirit in my friend, Kay, when it comes to all things cooking.  She, like myself, saves any cookbook, cooking magazine, blog post, for just the perfect time when she can savor every word.  So, a while back, she gave me the greatest gift... A stack of cookbooks she didn't want/use anymore just waiting for me on my desk one morning when I got to school.  It was a struggle to concentrate the rest of the day, knowing I'd get to go home, get the family to bed, take my spot in bed, and begin flipping through the pages with delight.  But the best thing about this gift?  These were not just any cookbooks.  Two of them were a year's worth of Cooking Light recipes, from two different years, all sorted according to seasons, full of meal ideas, gorgeous photos, you name it.  There is still so much I want to try, I can't even begin to tell you.  Actually, I still can't believe she gave them up!

Today's recipe is a slight adaptation of the first of many dishes from the mentioned cookbooks.  I've always been a huge fan of chicken salad, and I can appreciate it in simple form.  Grapes. Celery. Chicken. Mayo. Done.  But, what I really love is experimenting with different takes on the basic.  To me, chicken salad would definitely be a must-have on the menu of a southern bed and breakfast, as you don't visit a local tea room or quaint restaurant around here without seeing it prominently suggested on the menu.  Packed in a pita, served with a side of kettle chips, fresh fruit, and lemonade, it's a summer-in-the-south delight.

This particular mixture includes wonderful ingredients, as you'll see below.  But the toasted almond slices, in my opinion, puts it over the top.  It's slightly sweet, slightly salty, with just enough "special" to satisfy any chicken salad connoisseur.  If you are one, I highly encourage you to add this to your rotation.  It's worth every bite!

Chicken Salad - makes 3-4 servings

  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast  
  • 3/4 cup quartered seedless red grapes
  • 1/2 cup diced apples
  • 3 tbsp. diced pineapple
  • 1 tbsp. Craisins, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds, toasted*

~  Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
~  In a small bowl, whisk together next five ingredients and pour over chicken mixture.
~  Gently stir in almonds.

*  To toast almonds, heat skillet to medium heat.  Pour almonds into pan and shake about
    every 30 seconds until fragrant and golden, as pictured above.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Recipes