From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering
As many of you know, I constantly shop in Costco. One summer on separate occasions they had two versions of this salad. The ‘bought in’ salad was made with canned chicken breast and then Costco made their own version using left over barbecued chicken. One was called Cape Cod Chicken Salad and the other had to be renamed to New England Chicken Salad or vice versa. I read the label (as I often do both for nutrition and recipe ideas) of the ‘bought in’ salad and it included Craisins, pecans and honey with mayonnaise. I went back to my Chicken Waldorf Salad and took that as the base for this salad. Using canned chicken, it can also be used as a sandwich filling or cracker spread. It is good as a meal time salad or for a picnic/party if you use fresh chicken cut in larger pieces. By making this yourself, you can add as many Craisins, pecans, etc. as you like. Keep the Craisins, pecans etc. in larger recognizable pieces, rather than almost “mush.” This way, you are not adding all the preservatives and chemicals present in store-bought versions of this salad.
Many of this style of salad uses 100% mayonnaise. We find we are quite happy with 100% yogurt (over measuring one day and we liked it) or 75% yogurt and 25% mayo. Far less fat, calories and it gives it a creamier, lighter flavor. 1 Tbsp. of light mayo has 35 calories and 1 Tbsp. of low-fat vanilla Greek Yogurt.
This is the proportion of ingredients we like, but play with them to your taste.
- 12 oz. can chicken, drained or 12 oz. cooked chicken shredded as finely as you want or need it. (This is roughly 2 breasts from a Supermarket ready roasted chicken. Remember to check store-bought chicken to ensure it is gluten-free, as injected solutions can contain gluten).
- 1 cup low fat Greek vanilla yogurt or whole, plain organic yogurt.
- 1-2 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate (Start with one Tbsp., make salad, then taste and add more if you want. Or use zest of orange instead. I decant a good frozen orange juice concentrate into a sandwich bag and freeze it flat (it is spoon-able when frozen.)
- 1/3 cup plain Craisins
- 1/3 chopped, toasted pecans. (Toast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.) You can cheat and chop peanuts, smoked almonds, cashews, etc. instead.
- 2 stalks of celery, washed, cut into 4 lengthwise and cut into ¼ to ½ inch dices.
- 1 Gala/Fuji/Braeburn apple, washed, not peeled and cut into small dices. Apples don't discolor and stay crisp in yogurt mix.
- 2-3 tsp. maple syrup (or honey) or to taste
- 1 tsp. gluten-free honey mustard
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional if kids won't eat green stuff)
- 2 Tbsp. green of green onions or chives (optional if kids won't eat green stuff)
- 1 Tbsp. leaves from the fresh celery (optional if kids won't eat green stuff, or you didn't use celery)
- Some freshly ground pepper. I don’t find I need to add salt - your decision.
- Mix everything together, refrigerate for about an hour for flavors to mingle, taste and adjust seasoning, maple syrup, more herbs etc. to your taste.
- Serve as an appetizer on top of an avocado half
- Hollow out orange or grapefruit half and use as serving container for individual portions on top of mixed salad. Cut edges with v-shaped cutter or knife
- Serve in hollowed out melon for large party
- Spread a canned version into cucumber or celery boats
- Spread on wraps and top with lettuce, roll up
- Spread on crackers or crostini and serve for shower or tea party
- Add some curry powder/paste and pineapple instead of Craisins
- Gluten-free soy sauce, honey, water chestnuts, drizzle of sesame oil, Thai basil
- Mexican with cilantro, hot spice, bell peppers.
- Italian with basil, artichokes, olives, bell peppers.