Cooking On A Budget: Flavorful Chicken Salads

Friday, January 13, 2012

Flavorful Chicken Salads

Yum
When I owned the restaurant we made a variety of chicken salads for sandwiches to go.  One of the most popular was our Lemon Chicken Dill Salad. We also made a chicken and grape salad with a sweetened mayonnaise dressing and some chopped walnuts.  Our everyday chicken salad with finely diced onion and celery and mayo and pasta salad with chicken and diced red peppers.
The key to the flavor of the salads was using boneless and skinless chicken breast that we poached in chicken broth and then in turn, strained the broth as a base for soup. Poaching in the broth added flavor to the chicken and helped it to stay moist. Make sure you wash the chicken in cold water before adding it to some simmering chicken broth.
The chicken salads can be served sandwich style or on a bed of lettuce with some fruit on the side if you are trying to eliminate some carbohydrates. For healthier sandwiches, use whole wheat breads or whole wheat pita pockets. To make the salads budget friendly to use for quick and simple suppers and for healthy lunches for your family, take advantage of the 3 pounds or more breasts on sale at your grocery store. That way some of the chicken can be used for the salads and some for other dinners.
Prepping the chicken:  Start out by cutting off the thicker parts of each breast - removing the white tendons and any silver skin. You can choose to use the thinner ends for the salads and leave the plump ends for dinner recipes.
Poach the thinner ends in the broth for about 20 minutes - take one out with slotted spoon and make a slit in the chicken to be sure it is cooked through. The thicker ends about 30 minutes.
Lemon Chicken Dill Salad
4 cups chicken - shredded
1 shallot - finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh dill - finely minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3-4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and adjust for seasonings and taste of lemon. If the mixture is too dry, add touches of mayonnaise or lemon juice to taste. Do not overpower the mixture with mayo. This salad should be more lemon flavored than heavy with mayo.
Chicken and Grape Salad
4 cups chicken - diced
1 cup of red or green grapes (or use a combination of) - halved
2 tbsp. walnuts - coarsely chopped
1/3 cup celery - outer ribs peeled and finely diced
1 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl combine all ingredients. Taste and adjust for seasoning and adjust mayonnaise to your liking.
Basic Chicken Salad
4 cups chicken - cubed
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup celery - outer ribs peeled and finely diced
1/3 cup onion - finely diced
1 tsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl combine all ingredients. Taste and adjust for seasoning and adjust mayonnaise to your liking.
Chicken and Pasta Salad
1 box of small shell pasta - cooked el dente per manufacturers instructions
4 cups chicken - cubed
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 large red bell pepper - seeded and diced into small pieces
1 cup celery - outer ribs peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup onion - finely diced
2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
When you have cooked and drained the pasta allow it to cool down. In a large bowl combine the pasta with the chicken, the red pepper and the seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste buds.



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