It’s rather amusing to me that although I’m doing a post on chicken salad today, the truth is up until about roughly 3 years ago, I absolutely LOATHED the stuff.
Seriously. I just couldn’t abide it. If you were to put a bowl of chicken salad underneath my nose I’d probably start gagging. That’s how serious it was.
The thing is, (and as you guys know about me by now) I actually love chicken and eat it all the time. And the ingredients in most chicken salads are ingredients that by and large, I’m fine with.
Save for one.
I don’t think there are enough words in the English language for me to express how much I completely and vehemently despise mayonnaise.The smell is enough to trigger my gag reflex and kill my appetite. The thought of the stuff literally makes my skin crawl. Not joking, guys. It’s just one of the worst things to ever be created and for the life of my I don’t understand how people can actually enjoy it.
Miracle Whip is slightly less egregious to me, but not by much.
However, as we all know mayonnaise happens to serve as the base for most chicken salad recipes. If you don’t like it, then chances are you won’t like chicken salad–which would explain my nearly life-long aversion to it.
So, how did I get over it? Easy. I learned a little trick of swapping out the mayonnaise for another base: Greek yogurt.
Whole milk Greek yogurt is thick, creamy and a perfect substitute for those of us who can’t get down with the mayonnaise. It’s much better for you too so this dish is actually one you can eat and feel pretty good about afterwards. If I had one personal criticism of Greek yogurt it’s that sharp tangy aftertaste it’s got. I know that most people love that about it, but for me, I need something to temper it. That’s where this recipe came in and saved the day.
The other ingredients in this salad really work to temper the sharpness of the Greek yogurt. The roasted carrots and golden raisins give it an excellent sweetness all on their own, but then the spices (curry powder, honey, cumin, turmeric and cardamom) also work together to give it another depth of flavor that elevates the typical ‘monotony’ that is most chicken salad recipes. The nuts just give it that extra edge of crunchy texture that it needs. The recipe does suggest using walnuts, but all I had in the house were almonds at the time so that’s what I went with and (like most of my improvisational kitchen decisions) it actually turned out to be what I think I would’ve preferred in the first place.
As you may have guessed, chicken salad actually tastes better the day after you make it, when the ingredients and flavors have time to sit and really meld together. So if you have the time to do so, I do recommend you making it at night just before you go to bed, then maybe taking it with you to work for lunch the next day, or saving it for dinner the next day. You won’t be disappointed, this makes an awesome sandwich, guys.
Side note: you want to send your chicken salad sandwich over the top and into the stratosphere of deliciousness? Add a layer of potato chips before you put on the top slice of bread. TRUST ME.
Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Carrots
- 3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds, which is what I used)
- 2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (1 pound)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 small Granny Smith apple-peeled, cored and cut into a fine dice
Preheat the oven to 400°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender. Let cool to room temperature. While the carrots are roasting, spread the almonds on a pie plate and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden.
In a large bowl, mix the yogurt with the honey, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, cardamom and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fold in the shredded chicken, carrots, walnuts, golden raisins and apple and season with salt and pepper.