Kern County chicken salad
I grew up eating the type of chicken salad you're envisioning. You know, the gloopy scoop of mush drenched in mayonnaise and served on a croissant. (Yuck!) But this was elegance at its finest for my grandmother and her ladies who lunched at bridge club.
I've taken this classic dish and modernized it with local Kern County ingredients. Now, it's light, bright and healthy, and SO simple to make. It's perfectly balanced with sweet grapes, toasted slivered almonds, creamy avocado and an apple cider vinaigrette. I serve it in butter lettuce leaf cups, which adds another layer of crunch and makes for a beautiful presentation. This recipe is comfort food kicked up a notch, and I'd argue even more sophisticated than what my Grandie served years ago! Ha!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Coat two big chicken breasts (I used boneless, skinless, but bone-in would work great) in olive oil, lots of salt and pepper. Chicken really needs salt, so don't be shy!
Roast for about 35 - 45 minutes depending on the size of your breasts.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let cool.
Make the dressing.
Combine 1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
I like to pour everything into a mason jar and shake it up to get the ingredients perfectly mixed!
Toast 1/2 cup of blanched slivered almonds.
It's imperative you don't skip this step. This nutty flavor truly makes the dish!
Turn your stove on medium high heat, and continually move your almonds around a nonstick pan. This keeps them from burning.
Toast until golden brown, which should take about 3 minutes.
Remove your pan from the stove and let cool.
Chop 1 heaping cup of red grapes. I used Grapery's gum drops, which are locally grown in Kern County, but any red grape variety is fine!
Chop about 5 green onions, which should equal 2/3 cup.
Chop your chicken breasts into cubes.
Slice one avocado.
Remove your butter lettuce leaves from the root, wash and position on a platter.
Combine your chicken, almonds, grapes and green onions in a bowl.
Pour all of your dressing over the top and mix until coated evenly.
Honestly, the longer this sits in your fridge, the better! This is the type of dish that's even more delicious the next day, which makes it a perfect go-to lunch to eat throughout the week.
Now, you can either refrigerate your chicken salad for a few hours to serve it cold, or you can eat it room temperature, which is absolutely divine.
Spoon your chicken salad into your butter lettuce cups and top with sliced avocado (this adds creaminess in homage to the mayonnaise!)
Not to toot my own horn, but this is the most delicious thing I've ever made. The taste is perfectly balanced and the ingredients do wonders for your body. Grapes are packed with antioxidants and actually help with bloat. They're powerhouses for keeping your body from retaining extra water. Not to mention, they support a healthy heart and brain by boosting your immune system and fighting inflammation. Almonds are rich in healthy fats, wonderful at regulating your blood sugar and actually lower your cholesterol. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants. Apple cider vinegar boosts your metabolism and promotes a healthy weight. The roasted chicken is an excellent source of protein, and necessary for building strong bones and muscle repair. Please know when you're devouring this dish, you're fueling your body with everything it craves to operate at its best! Happy eating!