There is a salad that I make for almost every single party, potluck, barbecue, whatever it is that I attend. It’s a sure-fire win for every occasion, it keeps well in the heat (i.e. summer barbecue) and it meets all three of my recipe criteria: easy, healthy, delicious.
So many people have asked me for this recipe over the years (some people more than once, you know who you are), and I thought I’d put it on the blog so I could just point them there from now on. And get in a little shameless self promotion in the process. Ahem.
Finding the recipe was kismet, truthfully. I had just purchased a basil plant from Trader Joe’s for my patio garden, and Real Simple magazine (go subscribe right now, it is amazing) did a spread on cooking with fresh basil. So, I tried it out, and both Huz and I were like THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING I HAVE EVER EATEN. I make it for a party and everyone is all, “WHO MADE THIS? RECIPE. NOW.”
Here is the recipe, as taken from Real Simple:
Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil
- 4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
- 1 tablespoon white wine or rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 scallions, white and light green part, thinly sliced
- 2 Granny Smith apples, diced (peeled if desired)
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Pound it to an even thinness.
- Place the chicken in a large saucepan and add water to cover by ½ inch. Add 3 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar, and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.
- Drain, pat dry, and dice the chicken. Add it to the apple mixture with the peanuts, mint, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Toss and divide among individual plates.
This recipe calls for poached chicken breasts. To that I say: NOT IN MY KITCHEN. I mean, if that’s what you have on hand, then by all means. But, I have found that a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store deli or the slow cooker chicken recipe outlined below (cooked in the AM, dismantled in the PM) are far superior. Just shred the meat by hand and add when you would have added the chicken breasts.
Follow directions exactly re: onions and apples. The vinegar and lime juice will help keep the chopped apple from getting brown.
I make this salad (for the adults) when I have snack duty at preschool, and there is a little gal there with a peanut allergy, so I omit the peanuts on those occasions. It still tastes awesome (but the peanuts add a wonderful flavor, so add them if you can!).
I have used both kinds of vinegar, both are great.
I’m sure other apples could stand in here, if that’s what you have on hand. But, the Granny Smiths are absolutely the bomb. The tartness of the apple is a major component, so just make sure it’s a really tart apple.
The salad tastes even better when it sits for a while, so make it ahead of time if you can, and let it sit in the fridge for 8 hours or so.
Just promise me that if we are attending the same party, you won’t bring this salad. Because chances are I’m bringing it too.
The fan-freaking-tastic slow cooker chicken recipe (from this cookbook):
Mexican-Style Lime and Cilantro Whole Chicken
One 3 to 4 pound broiler/fryer chicken
3/4 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
2 cloves garlic
1. Wash and dry the chicken thoroughly. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker, breast side up. Squeeze the lime juice over the chicken, and put the rinds, cilantro and garlic into the cavity. Cook on LOW 6 to 7 hours.
2. Transfer the chicken to a platter. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and remove/shred the meat. If not using the meat immediately, refrigerate.
Note: I’m petrified of handling raw chicken and eggs, ever since the salmonella. If you’re like me, it helps to have all the other ingredients prepped and at your fingertips so you don’t have to get your germy hands all over the kitchen. Hint: I put the salt and pepper in a little dish.