Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans

An easy, filling chicken salad, made with cooked chicken, seedless grapes and salted, roasted pecans, lightly tossed in a creamy dressing.

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans

Fall doesn't arrive for a few more weeks and it's still pretty hot, so I'm hanging with the summertime food vibe here y'all.

I'm not quite ready to say hello to fall themed dishes, but there are plenty of other food bloggers out there who've got your back if that's what you're looking for! 

In the meantime, chicken salad is such a good and easy meal, especially during these extended southern dog days of summer and I lean on it a lot.
  • It's tasty.
  • It's filling.
  • It makes a great sandwich - whether it's on white bread, whole wheat, in a wrap or on a fancy croissant.
  • It makes a great lower carb option when scooped over crisp lettuce with sliced tomatoes served on the side.

And y'all... it's super simple ingredients!

  • Cooked chicken
  • Seedless grapes
  • Salted and roasted pecans
  • Mayonnaise based dressing
  • Pantry seasonings

My go-to chicken salad is the one that I call an Old-Fashioned Deli Style Chicken Salad and it is most like the classic chicken salad that you find at many grocery store deli bars. It's the one I make the most.

Every once in a while though, I do like to mix it up a bit!
By the way.... I'm interrupting the post here to remind you that this is a blog, not just a recipe site. If you aren't interested in the chit chat, info, tips and such in a post, as always, full recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, are a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll down the page!
There are actually multiple variations in the Cook's Notes on that basic chicken salad, but I've been steady posting separate recipes. Of those, my Grown-Up Chutney Chicken Salad patterned after a local, Southern Tea Room, is my next top favorite. It's a little, well, fancy!

Following that, Cranberry Chicken Salad would be next in line and it includes the addition of those sweet, dried cranberries that just liven up that salty sweet thing so many of us love. 

More recently, being a lover of avocado, I wrote up a new recipe for a Bacon, Pecan and Avocado Chicken Salad and wow, is that one amazing! I'm mean seriously, for us lovers of all things avocado, how can you not love that combo?

Each of these chicken salads are a little bit different from each other, as is this one!

While my Grown-Up Chutney Chicken Salad has similar elements, it's a bit more dressed up than this one, which I wanted to keep a little more basic, yet a tad bit unique as well - and with the elegant addition of grapes and pecans. I know a lot of y'all love that!

What makes this one different?
  • Instead of just dressing the salad with the classic mayo, I'm using a mayonnaise and sour cream combination.
  • A little bit of fresh lemon juice really brightens this chicken salad up!
  • Just a dash of Creole mustard adds a nice tang, but yellow or even Dijon will also work, though you could also omit it.
  • Instead of using the typical chopped celery, I'm using a bit of celery seed instead, and have included some of the fresh celery leaves. Parsley will also work.
  • I'm using already cooked shredded chicken from my freezer but for added texture, I'm leaving half of it shredded and chopping the other half.
  • I'm using green grapes today because that's what was on sale at my grocery market this week, and what I picked up for snacking. I would typically use red grapes for the added color. Either will work just fine, just make sure that they are sweet and not sour!
  • Instead of the typical sweet yellow onion or even sliced green onion, I'm going with the bolder flavor of a purple onion.
  • Today, I'm serving this as a chicken salad plate, scooping chicken salad over fresh, crisp romaine and thickly sliced fresh tomatoes. I've added a few whole grain crackers on the side, though that's completely optional. Sandwiches or a tortilla wrap are nice too though!

What about the chicken?
  • Use a rotisserie chicken for ease, but remember, those are already highly seasoned. Keep that in mind before adding any additional salt or other seasonings. Taste first, then adjust!
  • Repurpose those leftovers. If you're already frying, grilling or pan searing chicken, toss some extras on specifically for planned leftovers. Once cooled, pull into large shred, seal in a lidded container and refrigerate for chicken salad later.
  • Poach a few chicken breasts, or even better, use my better than poaching method for what I call Ready Chicken. You will be astonished (really) about how much more flavorful that method is over poaching.

What substitutes work?

  • Swap out sour cream for Greek yogurt or mash some avocado with the lemon juice.
  • Cream cheese is another option you can swap out. Just soften it up to room temperature and loosen it up a bit with a dab of mayo or sour cream.
  • Swap out chopped sweet or tart apple for the grapes, or use both!
  • Swap out the purple onion for sliced green onion, chives or savory or sweet yellow onion.
  • Use fresh celery instead of the celery seeds and leaves.
  • Not a fan of pecans? Just leave them out or substitute your favorite nut. Walnuts, cashews and almonds work nicely in chicken salad.
  • Make it your own! Add some dried cranberries, cherries or raisins. Use tarragon or curry for a completely different flavor. Add some crumbled cooked bacon. A couple of teaspoons of dry ranch salad dressing mix is a favorite addition.
  • Try other fresh or dried herbs.

How about let's make some of my Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans?!

The dressing is so simple y'all! Mayonnaise, a little bit of sour cream, a dab of mustard - I'm using Creole, but any kind you like - salt, pepper and celery seed and just a bit of fresh lemon juice. Easy.

You'll see here that I have used both shredded and chopped cooked chicken for a little extra texture. To that I have added sliced, seedless grapes - green or red doesn't matter - and red onion for a change. It provides a little extra sharpness against the sweetness of the grapes and chopped pecans.

Celery is often a chicken salad staple and I always have some in my produce drawer - I mean, c'mon... it is an element of the trinity after all! I decided to go with a little celery seed in my dressing instead and then stirred in some of the chopped celery leaves. If you don't have fresh celery in the produce drawer, then sub in some parsley or some of your favorite dried herbs.

Mix all that up.

Serve it up as a sandwich or a wrap, or like here as a salad plate, scooped over crisp lettuce and thickly sliced fresh tomatoes!

For more of my favorite chicken salad recipes, check out my page on Pinterest!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Posted by on September 7, 2022
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