Taking the “ick” out of chicken salad


I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate mayo. Loathe it, really. Just looking at the way it jiggles in the cup when someone asks for it on the side of something at a restaurant makes me ill. Ick! So, as you may have gathered, I am not too big on most picnic type foods, like chicken/egg/potato/pasta salads, deviled eggs, etc. When I make potato and pasta salads, I always use a vinaigrette-based dressing. I must admit, though, that I’ve never made chicken salad. When I saw a recipe for chicken salad with asparagus and sundried tomato dressing from Cook’s Illustrated, I knew I had to try it.

I served this over some swiss chard and also with crostini (with goat cheese spread on it). Overall, the flavor on this was good. I think it needs more dressing (at least when it’s served over greens) but I admit I did reduce the amount of olive oil slightly to make it a little lighter, so that contributed to it being underdressed, no doubt.

While I liked the asparagus and sundried tomatoes in this chicken salad (and, of course, the goat cheese and pine nuts!), I think I prefer chicken salad I had at a local coffee shop, which has since closed. Their chicken salad had pesto and hearts of palm. So, at some point, I will try to make a copycat version of that. But, overall we did like this recipe, though it would be much better in the spring when asparagus is seasonal.  I just had one of those must-make-now moments even though it’s freezing out. 🙂

Chicken Salad with Asparagus and Sundried Tomato Dressing
Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 5-6

3.5 lb. whole chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper (I actually just used a roasted chicken I picked up at my grocery store)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus an additional tablespoon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained, rinsed and chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed (I used 2)
1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup chopped fresh basil
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese (optional)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (I probably used closer to 1/4 cup)

If you are roasting your own chicken, season it with salt and pepper and then roast it in the middle of a 375 degree oven until done. When cool, pull the meat from the bones and set aside 5 cups. If you have more, just save it for a different use.

Puree the oil, vinegar, sundried tomatoes, garlic and 1/4 tsp salt and 1/s tsp pepper in a food processor/blender until smooth. Transfer for a bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in a skillet and cook the asparagus (seasoned with salt and pepper) until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Let cool.

Add the cooled asparagus and the basil to the vinaigrette, stirring to combine. Add the chicken to combine and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with goat cheese and pine nuts, if you want.

Taking the “ick” out of chicken salad

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