Chicken Salad: The Easy Answer to Shabbat Lunch

"One can never be too rich, too thin — or have too many chicken-salad recipes." I don't know who said that, but I know it to be true, especially when leftover chicken is taking up too much space in my frig.

Chicken salads are a scrumptious way to simplify the demands of Shabbat lunchtime entertaining. If I'm preparing chicken for a Shabbat dinner, I always add an extra one or two to the roasting oven or several chicken breasts to the grill.

This will allow leftovers for a weekend chicken salad that sometimes will last through the beginning of the week. These salads are so appealing and wholesome that they can be the star and main course of a warm evening dinner.

Start with cooked chicken (fresh or leftover), add top-notch produce, fresh herbs and flavor enhancers, such as garlic, vinegar and mustard. The result is a main dish with maximum flavor and minimum amount of effort. These tasty salads are attractive to the eye, as well as refreshing, yet substantial, to the palate.

The following recipes illustrate some of the possibilities. Accompaniments need not be more than good crusty bread and an appropriate seasonal beverage.

Chicken-Salad Niçoise


Dressing Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsps. chopped basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsps. Dijon mustard

6 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves, cooked and cut into strips
11/2 lbs. small red potatoes, quartered and cooked
1 lb. green beans, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces and cooked just until tender
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 cup niçoise olives, pitted and halved
2 Tbsps. capers, rinsed and drained
2 watercress or arugula leaves
salt and pepper
2 cups mixed greens

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until well-blended.

In large bowl, combine the chicken with the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, pepper, olives, capers and watercress.

Toss with most of dressing, and taste for salt and pepper. Toss the greens with the remaining dressing.

Line platter with greens and top with chicken salad.

Serves 8.


Santa Fe Chicken Salad


Chili-Cumin Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
1/2 cup olive oil

4 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 red or yellow pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into strips
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 cups cooked black beans
salt and pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients until well-blended.

In large bowl, combine the chicken, red pepper, roasted pepper, green onions, corn and black beans.

Toss with the vinaigrette.

Taste for salt and pepper, and garnish with cilantro.

Serves 6 to 8.

Triple-Mustard Chicken Salad


Dressing Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsps. sweet-hot mustard
2 Tbsps. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

6 cups diced, cooked chicken
4 celery stalks, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 head radicchio lettuce, halved and thinly sliced
Romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the mustards, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, celery, pepper and radicchio. Toss with the dressing.

On a round or oval platter, arrange the Romaine leaves around in a spoke-like pattern.

Mound the chicken salad in center and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6 to 8.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Contact her at: [email protected]



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