Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sweetheart Chicken Salad

This chicken salad is easy to make at any time of the year and especially welcome as the days begin to get longer.  The recipe stands on its taste alone but also gets points for heart health.  It has no mayonnaise, uses lean chicken breast meat and delivers antioxidants via dried cherries and pecans.  Cap that off with a little fiber from the pears and celery.

Serve it on warm rolls, wrapped in lettuce cups or alongside some cottage cheese (the pears form a nice taste bridge to cottage cheese).

You can use fresh, poached or roasted pears in the recipe.  We love it with our roasted pears recipe and our 20-minute poached pears recipe but you can use canned pears in juice.  (Rinse them off if in syrup.)

Sweetheart Chicken Salad
Serves 3

2 cups  cooked, chopped skinless chicken breast
2 small pears, peeled and chopped (canned, roasted, poached or raw)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Dressing:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper

Method
  1. Place all chopped ingredients in a large bowl-- chicken, pears and celery.  
  2. Roughly chop cherries if large.  Add to mixture with pecans.
  3. Make dressing: combine vinegar and mustard in small bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk to emulsify.  Slowly add remaining oil as you continue to whisk to create a creamy dressing.  Stir in salt and pepper to taste.  Use a heavy hand with the black pepper; it compliments the tart cherries and mustard.  Pour over the chicken mixture and toss to coat.  
  4. Let chicken salad stand about 15 minutes to meld before serving.  Recipe can be made up to a day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.

Valentine's Day note: If you are poaching or roasting fresh pears, make a few extra for dessert.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce and serve with some vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt for a sweetheart dessert.