Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gourmet Chicken Salad

Copyright, Doug Kapustin, 2013

Day 10 

When I think of chicken salad, two distinct versions come to mind. The first is traditional, usually including a finely chopped blend of white and dark chicken, boiled egg slices, minced onion, and celery. The second version that comes to mind is a great deal more modern, and I have often been served variations of it when dining at a trendy deli or café. This unique version is made only from white meat, and it includes both nuts and fruit. Although both recipes for chicken salad are excellent, each requires a slightly different presentation. 

My grandmother was famous among friends and family for her amazing traditional chicken salad, as I clearly remember request after request for her to bring it to social functions. Like so many cooks of her generation, she didn’t have a recipe with accurate measures, but she knew exactly how much of each ingredient to add in order to make a consistently delicious recipe. Interestingly, she added sweet pickle relish to her signature chicken salad, making a tangy and tasty end result. I’ve found no one’s chicken salad that can compare, honestly. So, even though I frequently attempt my closest copycat recipe of Grandma’s, mine is still lagging far behind.  

Bearing this in mind, I have chosen to showcase the second, less traditional chicken salad recipe because of its rustic texture, attractive presentation, and all around outstanding service as a gourmet sandwich filler. Personally, I believe this chicken salad is best enjoyed with sourdough bread and green leaf lettuce leaves. The grapes, celery, onion, and toasted sliced almonds add the perfect blend of crunch and sweetness to please the palate.  

As an aside, I should add that using a good quality mayonnaise makes a huge difference in the flavor of the chicken salad. I like Hellman’s brand because of its creaminess and ability to nicely accent— but never overpower— dishes. Use the brand you like best. 

Served for company lunch or with a springtime weekend picnic, this recipe will be an easy, quick, and delicious addition to your collection. 

Gourmet Chicken Salad 


3-4 lbs. chicken breast tenderloin pieces, cooked and roughly chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 cups seedless red grapes, sliced in half
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 cup good quality mayo, plus more as needed 
1 ½ cups sliced almonds 
½  tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs. garlic powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt 
½ tsp. black pepper

More kosher salt and pepper to taste 


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a sheet pan, toss sliced almonds with extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, ¼ tsp. kosher salt, and ½ tsp. black pepper. Once coated, place in oven and toast until dry and lightly browned. Set aside to cool. 

In a large bowl, mix chicken, grapes, celery, onion, and mayo until well blended and until mayo is evenly incorporated. Add more mayo, as desired, to create preferred texture. Add sliced almonds and mix gently. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Serves 4-6. 

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