Last week, my friend Rachel and I were chatting over IM during work and we decided that we needed to take advantage of the worldly culture that the great city of Chicago has to offer by bringing a picnic to a free international jazz concert in Millennium Park. It took a little bit of convincing (and the promise of a few bottles of wine) to convince her husband that a multicultural concert in the park was exactly how he wanted to spend his Thursday night, but he relented and the menu planning begun.
We had a lot of grand plans for a sun-dried tomato dip, pasta salad and cheese and crackers but we also decided that we needed some form of a main course – heartier than cheese, but easy enough to transport and eat on paper plates in the park. I had chicken in my fridge and immediately knew I wanted to make chicken salad.
Because the outing was impromptu and I needed to shower, cook and finish my work (and not in that order), I didn’t want to use anything that wasn’t already in my fridge or pantry. Celery is a perfect way to add bulk and crunch to chicken salad to offset the creaminess of the dressing and the tangy cranberries add a touch of sweetness.
Serve this on whole grain bread as a sandwich, over spinach or greens as a salad or even on top of crackers for a quick lunch or light dinner.
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- ½ cup light mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup chopped celery
- ⅓ cup sweetened dried cranberries
- ¼ cup (about 2 ounces) coarsely chopped roasted almonds
- Poach chicken: Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full of water; bring to a boil.
- Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.
- Combine mayonnaise and the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add chicken, ⅓ cup celery, cranberries, and almonds; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.