I have been absent from my blog for quite a bit longer than I had originally planned, but I’m ready to get back on track with some of the interesting posts that I started a couple of months ago. First up is a quick fix meal that swaps out the heavy mayo in a chicken salad for some greek yogurt. Chicken salad reminds me of Spring because it’s one of the dishes where I like to use chives, which is one of the first edible plants to appear in Iowa. Since I grow my herbs in containers, I bring my chives indoors to winter-over, but we’ve recently had a few days in the 50s and a few days that broke into the 60s, so I’ve set my plants out to enjoy the sunny breezes and my chives have rewarded me by exploding in new growth. This recipe also takes advantage of my window parsley and the fresh herbs are critical to the final flavor, so please avoid the dry herbs in your cabinets.
This particular recipe has been evolving for a while, but I recently hit on a version that I really enjoy. The secret appears to be a heavy hand with the salt, a touch of sweetness, and the addition of a little olive oil to give it the luscious mouthfeel that yogurt can’t quite get on its own. The real stars though are the dried sour cherries which are like little flavor explosions each time you bite into one. Definately try them as an alternative to the more traditional grapes.
This is also a recipe where I used agave nectar for the hint of sweetness. I’ve been playing around with Wholesome Sweetners Organic Blue Agave and Organic Raw Blue Agave nectars, the latter of which has a slight molasses flavor that plays well in some recipes, but which I thought might be too strong in this case. Agave nectar or syrup provides a concentrated sweetness that dissolves readily, even in cold liquids, so it works well in dressings like this one. The chicken I used in this case was a leftover breast from another project, so I poached it in some salted water, let it cool and chopped it. You could also use leftover roast or grilled chicken, just be careful of any strong flavors that might carry over from seasonings used in the orignial chicken recipe.
I’ve been eating this on some really delicious Challah from The Cafe, a favorite restaurant and bakery here in Ames, or just by itself with a fork. If would also be delicious on lettuce cups.
Yogurt Chicken Salad
- 6 ounces fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs stone ground or Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp agave nectar or honey
- 2 tbs chopped parsley
- 3 tbs chopped chives
- salt & pepper
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 celery stalks (chopped)
- 1/4 a medium yellow onion (chopped)
- 1 chicken breast (about 6 ounces), cooked and chopped
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- In a bowl thoroughly combine the yogurt, olive oil, mustard, agave nectar, parsley, chives, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add the chopped chicken, celery, onion, almonds, and cherries and stir until well mixed.
- Refrigerate for a few hours to allow all the flavors to blend.
- Serve with lettuce and extra mustard on your favorite bread or on lettuce cups.