I spent last night tossing and turning, keeping myself up with thoughts of chicken salad. Typically, I’m not a fan of the all too often mushy blend of flavors that is chicken salad but it was all I could think of last night. I have a feeling it was really the baby craving this lunch time monstrosity and if there’s anything I’ve come to realize about the life growing in me, it’s this: nobody puts baby in a corner. Baby gets what baby wants! Thankfully exhaustion took over and I was fast asleep for all of 4 hours before the little leggy body began to kick and punch and have an all out brawl with my organs. Fetus thing was awake and hungry and still craving, of all things, a chicken salad sandwich. I had no choice but to comply so at 7:30 AM I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and wobbled into the kitchen.
Fact: You can take your chicken salad game to a whole new level just by adding a few things that are going to 1. maximize flavor 2. enhance texture and 3. increase aesthetics. Let’s start with 1. maximizing flavor: curry powder adds a spicy kick plus there are like a million spices in curry alone so you’ve now just taken plain gray chicken salad and turned it into something intriguing and complex. I am a huge fan of salty sweet pairings so when I saw a recipe with grapes in it, I just had to try it. It’s amazing, texture alone it’s nice to have something clean and juicy to bite into amidst the creamy mess! Speaking of textures, typically celery is added to give “crunch” the only problem is I’m not really a fan of celery’s flavor in chicken salad, it’s a little over powering in my opinion. And it’s wet, celery is comprised of 95% water…have you ever opened up a container of day old chicken salad only to find a murky pool has formed in, on, and around it. I’m not messing with that, I get that grapes are full of water too, but if you keep them whole they’re basically self contained. For added crunch I like to add nuts, almost any kind of nut will do. I went with almonds this time because the Thai Curry cashews I originally had in mind were looking kind of questionable. And finally, I’m a big believer in incorporating ALL THE COLORS into my foods. I read an article not too long ago (although for the life of me I can’t cite it because I can’t remember what it was called…but you trust me, right?) that talked about the power of each color of produce. For example, purple foods are high in antioxidants. Chicken salad, tuna salad, any creamy mayo salad is almost impossible to make beautiful but if you add enough color to anything I believe it confuses the viewer and takes the focus away from the mush that is the center of the photo.
1 large cooked and shredded chicken breast
1/2 c greek yogurt
1/4 c mayo
1 tsp curry powder
2 green onion stalks chopped
1/2 yellow summer squash diced
1/2 c grapes
1/4 chopped almonds
salt and pepper to taste
Add all prepared ingredients into a medium bowl and mix. It’s really as simple as that. I used a few slices of toasted honey oat bread, sliced up a few cherry tomatoes I’d nabbed at the farmer’s market and placed them on top of the prepared chicken salad, then for an extra boost used a few leaves out of my bag of mixed greens and a few slices of red onion. The curry powder in this is extraordinary…I don’t feel that I’ve done enough or even KNOW enough about the exotic mix of spices that it’s comprised of but the flavor and color it adds is just perfect. Oh, and the grapes! Like balloons of juicy sweetness that cut right through the acridity of the red onion and creaminess of the added yogurt and mayo.