Curried Chicken Salad with Apples, Dried Cranberries & Walnuts

September 11, 2011


Basics, Fall, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Sandwiches, Seasons, Side Dishes

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It’s fall, so I rush around a lot. I’m getting used to not having time to linger over lunch. I have to bring it with me most days, and eat it while I read about hearsay or the Fourth Amendment. Despite the rigors of daily life, Sundays are sanctified by a roasted chicken. Christopher and I don’t go to mass, but we manage to make a weekly-holiday: we roast and carve a bird before Monday begins, feeling grateful for its life and ours. This is important.

I also feel compelled on Sunday nights to squirrel away food for the week ahead. I like roasted vegetables and quinoa or Israeli couscous with herbs, leftover black bean soup and anything with Parrano cheese. Towards the end of the week, I pack almond butter and banana sandwiches on cinnamon-raisen Ezekiel bread. But, because Christopher and I make a ritual of roasting a small bird on Sunday night, I often have chicken salad in my Monday lunchbox.

This may be my favorite chicken salad recipe of all time. That says a lot because chicken salad is one of the tastiest dishes imaginable. Anyone who doesn’t like chicken salad is either a vegetarian or a liar. I’ve heard tell that some folks don’t like mayo. I’m not in that camp, but I can understand why you might be turned off by a glistening, jiggly food that’s made of eggs but can last in the pantry for years if unopened. That’s why this recipe is wonderful: it uses a scant cup of plain yogurt, which offers just enough zest and moisture to enhance the taste and texture of chicken.

This recipe is just right in the fall: apples are back, and warm spices taste best in cooler weather. Strafford Organic Creamery sells organic yogurt—-and milk, and ice cream—-which I consume daily. I love yogurt. I am probably the only person in America who exceeds the recommended three cups of dairy a day: I’m above-quota now that we’re in Vermont and Strafford ice cream is in the freezer. {I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who said that he would have Strafford ice cream if he were about to face the electric chair. “That’s the strangest thing,” I replied. “I’ve thought the same.”}

In any event, this salad takes just a few minutes to prepare and is a perfect lunch–it leaves me feeling sated, but not groggy. Fresh apples, tart, chewy cranberries and crunchy toasted walnuts make it special. I owe this recipe to my friend Louisa, who made a version of it over a weekend in July and had me eating chicken salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples, Dried Cranberries & Walnuts

Combine 8oz pulled chicken (I combine light and dark meat from a roast chicken) and 1 c plain yogurt in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of curry powder. Add a pinch of salt, and a dash of pepper. Mix in 1/2 c toasted walnuts, 1/2 c dried cranberries (or dried cherries) and 2 medium-sized, chopped apples. Season with additional curry, salt or pepper, as desired.

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