Orchard Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad with all the goodies from the orchard — apples, grapes and walnuts.

Well, I suppose walnuts are really from a grove, but let’s not quibble about something so tasty.

The options for chicken salad are endless. If one of the ingredients isn’t quite your thing, substitute something else. Allergic to nuts? Leave them out. Want a little more tang? Try adding a little curry powder.

Light and delicious, it’s the perfect dish for spring.

Here’s what you need:

Cooked Chicken Breasts*, Apple, Grapes, Celery, Fresh Tarragon, Fresh Dill, Walnuts, Mayonnaise, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.

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*To cook the chicken breasts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking pan with foil and drizzle olive oil, salt & pepper over 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts.

Bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. To test for doneness, stab the chicken with a small sharp knife. If the juices run clear (not bloody), the chicken is done. You can often skip the stabbing part because there will already be juices on the pan.

I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating:  It takes the same amount of time to cook 2 chicken pieces as it does to cook 4 or 5. Buy a big package of split chicken breasts at the store and cook them all up at once. Then you can make this lovely chicken salad PLUS other great chicken dishes like chicken enchiladas or chicken tetrazzini.

OR you can make a chicken sandwich or even just eat the baked chicken all by itself. Options. We have chicken options.

To make your life easier, allow the chicken to cool. Then remove the skin and gently pull the meat away from the bone.

Chop the chicken into nice, chunky, bite sized pieces and put it in a mixing bowl.

For some crunch, cut up 2 ribs of celery.

Grab a nice firm apple — something like a Granny Smith or McIntosh. Cut the apple away from the core….

And then cut the apple into bite-sized chunks. Leave the skin on the apple for extra color, flavor and crunch.

Any orchard salad would not be complete without grapes. Any seedless grapes will do — either red or green. Wash them and cut the grapes in half. I have about 1 cup of grapes.

If you’re a stylish, color matching kind of person, you could use red grapes with a red apple or green grapes with a green apple. I’m more of a mix and match kinda girl. Plus these were the grapes and apple that were already in my refrigerator.

If you’re adding walnuts to the salad — and I think you should — put 3/4 cup of walnuts in a dry pan over medium low heat to make them nice and toasty.

Toasting the nuts brings out the oils and gives them a huge flavor boost. It’s also a good way to revive nuts that are a bit past fresh.  Helpful hint:  To get longer life out of nuts, keep them in the freezer.

About 5 minutes should do the trick. You’ll notice that they being to darken slightly (be careful not to burn them) and start to smell extra nutty.

Chop the nuts into small pieces and toss them in the bowl with the chicken and other chopped ingredients.

For fresh, spring flavor, I like to use a combination of dill and tarragon. Fresh herbs are easy to find in the store or you can easily grow your own.

Finely chop 1 Tablespoon each fresh tarragon (on the left) and fresh dill (on the right). The combination keeps either herb flavor from overpowering the salad.

So let’s recap, we have chicken, celery, apple, grapes, walnuts, fresh dill and fresh tarragon in the mixing bowl.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Then add 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of Mayonnaise and give everything a good stir to combine.

I’m using light mayo just to make this a little lighter and healthier.

Give the salad a taste to adjust the seasonings. You might like a little more salt, pepper or even more herbs.

This salad is best when it has a few hours (or even overnight) to rest in the fridge allowing all the flavors to blend. The acid in the mayo will keep the apple from turning brown.

I like to eat this as a salad served on a bed of lettuce. However, if you wanted to make chicken salad sandwiches, just chop all of the ingredients into much smaller pieces.

Orchard Chicken Salad.

Great for a lunch or brunch or eating right out of the fridge.

Here’s the recipe:
Orchard Chicken Salad

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