Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chicken Salad with Fresh Herbs

In every issue of Food Network Magazine, they choose a "basic" dish and ask two chefs to create a version of it so you can make both and see which you like better. This month they featured chicken salad - Emeril Lagasse and Aarti Sequeira both submitted recipes for their version of chicken salad.

As much as I love Aarti, her recipe was heavy on fruit and I knew Jason would turn his nose up to it. Though it'd be great for a baby shower or girl's night, it wasn't the right choice for a light dinner at home. Emeril's recipe was pretty standard and featured a lot of fresh herbs, which I knew I had on hand from other recipes, so I thought I'd give it a shot and see if it turned out better than the usual 'throw it into the bowl' chicken salad I've made in the past.

The inclusion of lots of celery really ramped up the flavor for me. We both really like celery so this was a plus for us. I've also never used celery leaves in something so it was neat to use something that I typically just toss. I loved that it's versatile enough to add whatever herbs you have on hand (especially if you have a green thumb and grow your own!) and easy to throw together. We had it on sandwiches but it would be good in a pitted avocado, crackers, or just on it's own.

I did not cook and cube chicken but instead just used shredded rotisserie chicken. So much easier!

If you're feeling adventurous, you should make your own mayo for it!

Chicken Salad with Fresh Herbs
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 cup mayo
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
1/3 cup finely chopped red onions (I skipped)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary, sage, and basil - Emeril suggests parsley and tarragon)
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

If cooking chicken for it: Preheat the oven to 400. Season both sides of each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Flip the chicken over and immediately place the pan in the oven. Roast 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayo, garlic, mustard, celery, celery leaves, red onion, herbs, celery seeds and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the mayonnaise mixture and mix well.

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