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Monday, July 26, 2010

Chicken Salad Veronique

Perfect chicken salad for a hot summer day.  This salad was a huge hit at my daughter's wedding last month, so much so, that I was asked to make it again two weeks later for my nephew's wedding in California.  The dressing is perfect--light and slightly sweet because it is a blend of mayonnaise and lemon yogurt.

"Veronique" generally indicates grapes in the recipe; I prefer seedless red grapes for the color they add.  If grapes are out-of-season (I don't buy the ones from South America), I sometimes use chopped Granny Smith apple and local walnuts in place of the almonds.

I made a gigantic batch for the wedding.  A friend came over on Thursday and we cooked and diced all the chicken breasts, stemmed and halved the grapes, and chopped the celery.  We stored everything separately in plastic bags in my extra refrigerator.

On Friday I mixed the dressing and combined all the ingredients (except the almonds, which I toasted, cooled, and bagged) so the flavors would blend overnight.

Saturday, just before serving, my kitchen crew (very dear friends) added the almonds.

 Mixing half of the entire batch in my canner for lack of a large enough bowl.

Toasting the almonds in half-sheet pans.

This recipe serves four to six.  It's delicious on sliced croissants (if you can find or make real butter croissants), but we also like it in whole wheat pita pockets.  It's also delicious just on a big lettuce leaf.

Chicken Salad Veronique
(I have been using this recipe for over twenty years.
I have no idea where I got it.)

3 cups chicken, cooked and cubed (I use chicken breasts*)
1 cup seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/3 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
1/3 cup lemon yogurt (I always use Yoplait and I use the whole container)
1/2 teaspoon mustard (I use Country Dijon)

Toast the almonds in the oven or a dry frying pan and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix the chicken, grapes, and celery.  In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, onion powder, celery salt and mustard.  Stir the dressing into the chicken mixture and chill several hours or overnight.  Add the almonds just before serving.

*Leftover cooked chicken works fine.  If I am cooking chicken breasts just for this recipe, I place them in a buttered shallow pan, brush them with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for about thirty minutes or until the juices run clear.  Two large or 3 medium chicken breasts is about right for three cups of cooked, diced chicken.

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