A salad can be best defined as a dish that is primarily made of fresh, often raw, fruits and vegetables. Although most salads are served cold there are some versions that are served hot. A versatile dish, there are several versions of salads such as fruit salads, appetizer salads, side salads and entrée salads to name a few. Apart from vegetables, salads can contain pastas, legumes, poultry, eggs, meat or even seafood. Healthy and packed with rich flavor and color, typical salad dishes are varied combinations of lettuce, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, pasta, noodles, nuts, fruits, cheese and eggs with your choice of meat.
Salad dressings can also have variation. You could use a simple vinaigrette that comprises of vinegar and salad oil, flavored with salt, pepper, sugar, spices and herbs. A creamy dressing is a rich dressing that is usually mayonnaise-based. It could also contain yogurt, buttermilk, or cream. Cooked dressings are very similar to the creamy dressing except that they contain egg yolks and they are gently heated.
Moving on to chicken salad, it is one of those salads that would belong to the category called bound salad. These salads can be arranged in a plate and served or they can be tossed in a bowl with a thick dressing. Typically, these salads use a creamy dressing that is mayonnaise-based. A bound salad that has been prepared well, will be able to hold its shape when a portion of it is served with an ice cream scoop. Other examples of bound salad include pasta salad, potato salad, egg salad and tuna salad.
Chicken salads are one of the most popular types of salads. They can either be served with sandwiches or they can be served on their own accompanied by lettuce leaves, sliced or hollowed tomatoes and avocado. Basic chicken salad recipes are spruced up with eggs, cantaloupes, papayas, grapes or just about any fruit you desire; walnuts, almonds or other type nuts; sour cream, teriyaki sauce or yogurt. Just about anything can be thrown into a chicken salad, let your taste buds guide you!
Let us look at some interesting options to make our chicken salad. The first salad we are going to make includes apples and cranberries. We will call this salad chicken salad with juicy apples and cranberries.
Chicken Salad With Juicy Apples and Cranberries
To make our chicken salad with juicy apples and cranberries, we will require the following ingredients.
- 3 cups cooked chicken (diced)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 to 3 tbsp red onion (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup diced apple
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- 4 to 6 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp curry powder (optional)
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup celery (diced)
- lettuce leaves
Procedure to Make Juicy Cranberries and Apples Chicken Salad
- Take a large bowl. Add 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken, 1/2 cup of diced apple, 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, 2 to 3 tablespoons of finely chopped red onion, 1/2 a cup of diced celery and 1/4 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts (if you like to have that extra crunch in your salad). Toss all these ingredients together in the large bowl.
- To prepare the dressing for our salad, take a small bowl. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, salt (as per taste), freshly ground black pepper (as per taste) and 1/8 teaspoon of curry powder (if you like the flavor of curry powder). Whisk all these ingredients together.
- Gradually add the dressing to your chicken salad.
- You could either take a plate lined with lettuce leaves and serve the cranberries and apples chicken salad on it or you could line bread with the lettuce leaves on your plate and serve this with the salad.
Your juicy cranberries and apples chicken salad is ready to eat!
Low Fat High Taste Chicken Salad Dressing
Let us look at the ingredients required to make the dressing for our second chicken salad recipe. Since this dressing is low in fat content and cholesterol and yet high on taste, we will call it low fat high taste chicken salad dressing.
- 2 tbsp sugar substitute
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 cup cold water
- dash of paprika (optional)
- Take a small bowl. In the bowl, mix together, 2 tablespoons of sugar substitute, 1/2 a teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup of vinegar, salt (as per taste) and freshly ground pepper (As per taste).
- In a separate container, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 1 cup of cold water. Place this on low heat and cook until the mixture is thick. Ensure that there are no lumps by constantly stirring. Remove the cornstarch mixture from heat and continue to stir for one more minute.
- Pour this cornstarch mixture over the ingredients kept in the bowl. Using a beater, ensure that all the ingredients of the salad dressing are mixed well until smooth.
- Add dash of paprika if desired.
Your low fat dressing is ready to be used with your chicken to create a healthy chicken salad, high in flavor.
Other Interesting Ingredients To Enliven Your Chicken Salad
The following are a few suggestions to enliven your chicken salad.
- preserves: any sweet berry can be substituted for the dried cranberries used in the juicy cranberries and apples chicken salad.
- honey: can be added to give that hint of sweetness to your salad
- pine nut: you could replace walnuts or pecans with pine nuts to give that wonderful, crunchy flavor to your salad
- sprouts: adding sprouts will make your salad extra crunchy and pack it with loads of nutrients
- garlic: you can add one clove of crushed garlic to your salad dressing to enhance its flavor. However, bear in mind that garlic has a very potent flavor and so, you might not want to add too much of it to the dressing.
- other vegetables: you could also add carrots, snow peas, sweet corn kernels to your chicken salad
You can use many other ingredients to make your very own version of chicken salad. Sky is the limit and so, be as creative as possible!