Cooking Class: All-new chicken salads

It’s after the holidays and not quite cold yet – in other words, who wants to spend time in the kitchen?

Chicken salad (photo credit: MCT)
Chicken salad
(photo credit: MCT)
The following are updated chicken salad recipes that make use of seasonal fruit and vegetables. All can be prepared using leftover chicken, store-bought rotisserie chicken or sautéed chicken breast.
These recipes were collected from various food writers and cookbooks published in the last year.CHICKEN AND CANTALOUPE SALAD
Makes 4 servings
Food writer Russ Parsons published this recipe in his Los Angeles Times food column.
We tried it with melons and watermelon – both versions were good.
✔ 1 Tbsp. minced shallots ✔ 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar ✔ 250gr.shredded rotisserie or grilled chicken ✔ 750 gr. diced cantaloupe (or melon) ✔ 1 Tbsp. oil ✔ Pinch of salt ✔ 4 generous cups torn arugula ✔ Freshly ground black pepper ✔ Salt to taste
In a small bowl, combine the shallots and the vinegar, and set aside to steep for at least 5 minutes while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Combine the chicken and the cantaloupe in a serving bowl, and set aside until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, whisk the oil into the vinegar mixture to make a smooth emulsion. Season with a pinch of salt.
Add the arugula to the chicken and cantaloupe. Pour dressing over the mixture and stir gently to ensure that everything is evenly coated. Finish with a good grinding of black pepper to taste.
TROPICAL CHICKEN AND MANGO SALAD Makes 4 main-dish servings
Mangoes are aplenty now, and their price is not too steep, so take advantage of this rare opportunity and use the fruit for more than just desserts. The following recipe was adapted from a column by Renee Enna that appeared The Chicago Tribune.
Dressing: ✔ 1⁄4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar ✔ 2 Tbsp. soy sauce ✔ 2 Tbsp. sesame or olive oil ✔ 1 Tbsp. honey or silan ✔ Fresh gingerroot, peeled, finely chopped (about 3 cm.) ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. each or to taste: crushed red pepper, minced garlic ✔ Freshly ground pepper
Salad: ✔ 2 bags romaine lettuce, iceberg shreds or shredded cabbage ✔ 1 cup chopped mint, basil or cilantro, or a combination ✔ 500 gr. precooked or rotisserie chicken, chopped or shredded ✔ 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced ✔ 1 large mango (or two medium), diced ✔ 1⁄2 cup roasted salted peanuts or to taste ✔ 1 lemon, quartered
For the dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl; whisk until combined. Set aside.
For the salad, toss lettuce with the herbs; divide among four shallow bowls. Divide the chicken, bell pepper, mango and peanuts among the bowls. (The prettier you arrange these ingredients, the more it will look like this salad took a long time to make.) Place lemon quarter, for squeezing, on each dish. Stir dressing before passing to serve.POACHED CHICKEN WITH COLESLAW Makes 6 servings
This Chinese-style chicken salad recipe calls for poaching rather than grilling the chicken breasts. The poached chicken is tossed with a prepared coleslaw mix, colorful peppers and spinach leaves, then mixed with a Chinese-inspired dressing, to make a tasty and low-fat meal.
✔ 500 gr. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves ✔ 2 cloves garlic, halved✔ 2 slices fresh peeled ginger, each about 1⁄2 cm. thick ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. salt ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. crushed red pepper ✔ 4 cups cabbage coleslaw mix ✔ 1⁄2 red pepper, thinly sliced ✔ 1⁄2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced ✔ 2 green onions, sliced ✔ 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, julienned
Dressing: ✔ Juice of 1 lemon ✔ 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (if unavailable, use green chili) ✔ 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar ✔ 1 Tbsp. light soy sauce ✔ 2 cloves garlic, minced ✔ 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger ✔ 2 tsp. sugar ✔ 1⁄3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Place chicken, garlic, sliced ginger, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper in a saucepan. Add 1 cup water. Cover, heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Drain and allow chicken to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine coleslaw mix, sliced red and yellow peppers, green onions, and spinach leaves in a salad bowl.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces and toss with coleslaw and vegetable mixture.
Whisk together lime juice, jalapeno pepper, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, minced ginger and sugar. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat evenly. Garnish with toasted almonds.
Quick-cooking couscous is readily available in Israel, and it’s as good as the traditionally made kind. The Mishpaha Hama brand also has whole-wheat couscous, which we find is tastier than the regular kind and is more healthful.
✔ 2 jars marinated artichoke hearts ✔ 4 cups cooked and cooled couscous (use whole wheat quick couscous by Mishpaha Hama) ✔ 2 cups coarsely chopped boiled or grilled chicken ✔ 2 green onions, chopped ✔ 1⁄2 cup minced fresh parsley ✔ 1⁄4 cup toasted pine nuts, divided ✔ Salt ✔ Ground black pepper ✔ Cherry tomatoes for garnish
Drain artichoke hearts, reserving marinade.
Coarsely chop artichoke hearts.
In a large bowl, stir together couscous, artichoke hearts, artichoke marinade, chicken, green onions, parsley, 3 Tbsp.
pine nuts and salt and plenty of pepper to taste. Stir gently but thoroughly.
Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. pine nuts. Garnish with whole or slivered tomatoes.PESTO CHICKEN SALAD Makes 4 servings
Note: Most store-bought pesto sauces are dairy. Try making your own cheeseless pesto; it will taste better and keep refrigerated for weeks.
✔ 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt ✔ 1⁄4 cup basil pesto, jarred or homemade ✔ 1 to 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise ✔ 1 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar ✔ Freshly ground pepper ✔ 500 gr. cherry tomatoes, in assorted colors, halved ✔ 1⁄2 to 1 cup walnut pieces, toasted ✔ 4 generous cups arugula or other salad greens
Place the chicken in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Add salt. Heat to a simmer; cover, cook until just done, 12 minutes.
Cool to room temperature. Thinly slice crosswise.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the pesto, mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar and pepper to taste to make a dressing.
Combine with the chicken in a large bowl.
Stir in the tomatoes and walnuts. Serve on a bed of arugula leaves.
PESTO Makes 1 jar
✔ 2 cups fresh basil leaves ✔ 2 Tbsp. pine nuts ✔ 2 garlic cloves, crushed ✔ 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic ✔ 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
Toast the pine nuts until golden, but be careful not to burn them.
Place basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add oil as the motor is running.
Store the pesto in a tightly closed jar or use immediately. To keep from discoloration, top the surface with a little oil.
For dairy dishes, add 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan to the mixture.