Mary Anne here. Our frugal-yet-fabulous mantra would be a whole lot harder to maintain without scooping up seasonal fruits and veggies. And right now, in the midst of this sultry July, Bing cherries are at their peak.
While we’ve all seen recipes for chicken salad with grapes, it occurred to me that it might prove “fruitful” (ahem) to sub-in cherries instead. What a wonderful surprise! While grapes add a definite sweetness to any salad, cherries vary from stem to stem – some sugary like a grape, others much crisper. Plus the juice of the cherries imbues the mayo with a cheerful rosy glow. We found this salad a refreshingly light summer’s repast enjoyed alfresco on our terrace, a cool breeze blowing off the heat of the day.
We opted to serve the Cherry Chicken over a bed of greens drizzled with a light vinaigrette, but certainly this concoction would make an outstanding sandwich nestled between slices of earthy, whole grain bread. Use chicken thighs for an even less-expensive meal, in fact, I actually prefer the dark meat. Alternatively, use cooked chicken/poultry leftovers from a larger feast. And if you’re feeling flush, swap out the chicken altogether for the richness of smoked duck!
Chunky Chicken Salad with Cherries and Walnuts
Note: Given my day job as a visiting nurse, I always have a stash of latex gloves on-hand and I put them to good use while pitting the juicy red cherries! I don’t know if my fingers would’ve retained the stain of these bright berries, but at least I know I can go to work tomorrow without looking like an extra from some horror film. Somehow I don’t think my patients would be thrilled being ministered to with cherry-red hands!
Another Note: If using fresh chicken, the poultry can be prepared the day before you actually make the salad. For this recipe, I place the breasts in water (just enough to cover) seasoned with a few sprigs of parsley, peppercorns and maybe a splash of whatever wine is open. Bring to a boil and then cover the pan and turn off the flame. A foam forms in the hot water – don’t worry about it. Allow the chicken to sit in the hot water until cool enough to handle. (This takes approximately 2 hours.) Once the breasts are done, remove the bone and cut the meat into 1” chunks. Place in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate until you’re ready to prepare the salad.
2 ½ lbs. split chicken breasts, bone in, poached and cut into 1” dice as directed above. – $7.52
1 ½ cups diced celery, about 3 ribs – stock
1 ½ cups walnut pieces – stock
3 cups Bing cherries, pitted and quartered – $3.99
¾ cup low fat mayonnaise – stock
6 ozs. plain yogurt – $0.79
1 Tablespoon dried Tarragon (or Rosemary) – stock
salt and pepper to taste – stock
6-8 cups mescaline greens – $2.99
Vinaigrette for the Greens:
6 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar – stock
1 Teaspoon dry mustard – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $15.29
Total Per Serving: $2.55
1. Prepare the dressing for the greens by whisking together all of the ingredients. Set aside.
2. Poach the chicken breasts as described in the notes above. Place the prepared chicken in a large bowl. Add the chopped celery.
3. Wearing latex gloves if you have them, cut the cherries in half. Remove the pits and then cut the halves in half again to make quarters. Toss into the bowl of chicken and celery. Add the walnut pieces, tossing well to combine.
4. Whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, and tarragon. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Fold into the chicken mixture, combining well.
5. Divide the salad green between 6 plates. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Place a large scoop of the chicken salad in the center of the greens. Serve with warm, buttered bread and a crisp, cold, dry white wine.