I was contemplating our lunches recently and came to the somewhat obvious conclusion that ours needed some inspiration. Lunches are tough for me. I seem to concentrate so much on dinner and feeding the both of us that when Paul started staying home for lunch, too, I was sort of overwhelmed. Leftovers are fine, but it's nice to have a proper lunch once in a while.
I've been craving a healthy salad of some sort, but I've been bored with our usual greens and dressings. I figured I could make a healthier chicken salad that incorporated more fruits and veggies into our diet. Plus, since it's been SO hot lately, anything make-ahead and chilly that we could eat for a few days sounded great to me. This chicken salad isn't such a revelation, really, but I was very happy with the result. Chunks of chicken are combined with diced apple, toasted pecans, sliced grapes, red onions and dressed with an herby, mustard and mayo dressing that is lightened with yogurt and lemon juice. I ate this piled on some salad greens with a hunk of bread and felt very pleased with myself for eating this instead of, say, bacon and cheese.
Healthier Chicken Salad
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
juice of one lemon wedge
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp chopped chives
fresh parsley or tarragon, if you have it!
a dash of salt and pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 apple, diced
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced green grapes
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup diced celery, if you have it
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Throw in a tablespoon of salt. Lower the temperature so that the water is barely simmering. It's what Julia Child calls a shiver stage. Add the chicken breasts, cover the pot and let the chicken poach for 10 minutes, maybe 15 depending on the size. Keep the water just at the point where it's beginning to boil and you'll have tender chicken.
Combine the diced fruit, onion, pecans and celery in a mixing bowl. In a seperate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Dice the chicken and add to the bowl with the fruit and nuts. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Add more dressing as needed, but you might not have to use all of it depending on the amount of chicken you have. I didn't use it all.
Chill for several hours until cold, or make it a day ahead. Serve on some salad greens (spinach leaves are great!) or in a sandwich. Serves 4.
*Note: The chicken breasts found in the USA are larger than those I buy here. You might want to increase the apple, onion, nuts, etc, if you have more chicken. As always, amounts are approximate.