A Non-Baking Interlude

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “This sure doesn’t look like a master bake to me…”  And you’re right (well, sort of–I mean, I did have to bake the chicken).  Although it goes against my very nature to give up sugar and butter for a whole month, I’ve for some reason decided to do just that and try Whole30 for the month of January to kick of 2018 on a healthy-ish note.

Which means I’ve been doing a heck of a lot of cooking over the last week, but tragically no baking.  Though I plan to post some past recipes in the interim, to tide y’all over until February when I’ll be back to my almond-loving, Ghiradelli chocolate-hoarding self, I thought I’d share this super easy but oh-so-tasty chicken salad recipe for those of you who, like me, are New Year’s resolutioning it for the time being.

I’ve listed out amounts below for the ingredients, but generally I just kind of throw in ingredients until it looks like enough, so definitely feel free to adjust to your own tastes for maximum chicken salad enjoyment.

Grapes, celery, sliced almonds, and dill form the “salad” elements of this chicken salad, with mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper forming the “dressing.”

Ingredients:

For the marinade:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • approx. 2-3 tbsp vinegar
  • approx. 1 tbsp black pepper
  • approx. 1 tsp salt

For the chicken salad:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 to 1.5 pounds uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup grapes, sliced into quarters
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • approx. 3-4 sprigs fresh dill (Are they called sprigs? I really have no idea.)
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise (Since I’m doing Whole30, I went with Primal Kitchen, which would also work if you’re doing paleo, but if you’re not tryna get so restrictive, just use whatever mayo you prefer.)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste (I’d say I add these in about the same proportions as in the marinade, but again, I typically eyeball and then do a little taste test to see if I want more pepper.)
I like to shred my chicken for my chicken salad, but if you prefer yours a bit chunkier, you can absolutely chop it instead.

Directions:

  1. Add the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper to a gallon-sized ziploc bag and slosh around a bit to mix them together.
  2. Stab each chicken breast a few times with a small knife to allow the marinade to permeate the whole hunk of meat, then place both chicken breasts in the bag, close, and shake, smoosh, or do whatever you need to do to get the chicken coated in marinade.
  3. Pop the bag into fridge for at least an hour. (I like to leave it overnight to really infuse that lemon peppery goodness, but sometimes there’s just no time for that.  An hour is about the shortest I would recommend to be sure that the flavor of the marinade really gets in there, but beyond that, I leave it to your discretion and timing needs.)
  4. Once the chicken is marinated to your desired level, preheat the oven to 375F and place the chicken on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F. (As someone who is very paranoid about food poisoning from undercooked chicken, my kitchen thermometer is absolutely one of my favorite tools, if only for my own piece of mind.)
  5. While the chicken is cooking, chop your celery, slice your grapes, pluck (?) your dill sprigs, and place them all in a medium to large-ish bowl with the sliced almonds.
  6. When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven, transfer to a plate, and shred using two forks.
  7. Add the shredded chicken to the celery, etc., squeeze in the lemon juice, add the mayo, salt, and pepper, and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, then take a little taste to make sure the seasonings are at the level you want them.

And now you’ve got a tasty and mostly healthy lunch to get you through the rest of the week.  I’ve been eating mine atop a bed of butter lettuce or shredded kale with some fresh avocado chunks thrown in, but I have no doubt it would be excellent on some fresh whole grain bread as well.  I’ve also made a non-Whole30, sort of Mediterranean version of this chicken salad, replacing the celery with cucumber, the mayo with Greek yogurt, and the grapes with red pepper, and that was equally tasty.

One of the best parts of this chicken salad is the great mix of tastes and textures–crunchy celery and almonds, sweet grapes, and bright dill make it a refreshing lunch option year-round.

Enjoy! And don’t worry, I’ll be back to baked goods with my next post.

 

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