It’s always a challenge for me to figure out what to make for lunch. Usually I’m having some type of leftover from the night before but when I have no leftovers in the fridge I’m stumped.
I was always turned off by tuna salads and chicken salads growing up for one main reason…excessive mayonnaise. Can’t stand it. I see the container of the stuff in the deli, want to give it another try, take the plunge and then end up hating it. Thick gloppy mayo, ugh. I’ve had luck in creating my favorite tuna fish sandwich ever, so I ventured out to try to create a chicken salad.
I love chicken. Whenever possible I buy organic chicken and 9 times out of 10 I get the split chicken breasts on the bone with the skins on and bake them in the oven. Perfection every single time. Succulent. Not exactly sure if the reason is because the chicken is organic or because of the way I’m baking it (or a combination of both). Whatever the reason, I’m happy about it.
With all that said, I knew that would be how I would actually cook the chicken. Then I set out to decide on the other ingredients, keeping flavor, texture and color in mind. I finally decided on shredded carrots and chopped celery. I always love the crunch and flavor of a nut, so I chose walnuts for this chicken salad. And the herb….knew it had to be dill. I love dill.
Now the serious stuff – the glue that holds it all together. The component that will make or break the chicken salad. I knew I could not tolerate thick mayo, so I tested out a few combinations of yogurt and mayo combined and finally arrived at a perfect combination. You can use regular yogurt, but I prefer the consistency of Greek yogurt.
You might be thinking it is a bit strange to add yogurt to a chicken salad, but I’ll tell you, it works. It is light and provides a great tang to the sandwich, pairing wonderfully with the dill. This yogurt mixture would also be great as a dip for cut up veggies.
I love this chicken salad so much, I find I’m making it once a week. I make extra and keep it in the fridge (it lasts for a few days). It’s delicious in between two slices of hearty, whole grain bread…equally delicious eaten by the spoonful right out of the container.
Here’s what you will need to make approximately 3 medium sandwiches…
2 large split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
2 tsp chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium carrot, shredded (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp chopped dill
small squeeze of lemon juice
salt & pepper
your favorite bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put chicken breasts in a baking dish, sprinkle with olive oil, salt & pepper and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until skin is lightly browned and juices run clear. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, add the shredded carrot and chopped celery to a large bowl with 2 tsp of dill and the toasted walnuts. Mix well. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the Greek yogurt, mayo, 2 tbsp chopped dill and lemon juice. Mix well. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and pull all the meat off the bone. Cut into medium sized cubes and place into a separate bowl. Allow chicken to sit for a few minutes to cool off completely. Drain any excess chicken juice from bowl. (Draining the juice is an important step, this will eliminate the yogurt dressing from getting too watery).
Add cubed chicken into the bowl with the carrot and celery mixture. Mix well. Add the yogurt mixture to the chicken until it reaches the desired consistency. I usually add half the mixture first, then mix. I add the remaining yogurt a spoonful at a time so it doesn’t get too creamy.
Place a few mounds in between slices of your favorite bread and enjoy!