How about a tasty chicken salad to welcome the first day of spring? Even though we have no snow on the ground here, the first day of spring definitely came in like a Lion with chilly temperatures (about 32F as I type) and lots of wind (meaning a wind chill of 20F). Glad I didn't put away my warm coat yet! On the day I made this last weekend, it was a mild 57F. The wild ride of March :)
This delightful chicken salad idea came by way of a Penny at Lake Lure Cottage who happened to mention the great chicken salad sandwich she and her husband enjoy at a restaurant in New Smyra Beach, Florida. No recipe, just a list of the ingredients, so I decided to try and recreate it. The apples, dried cranberries and orange mayonnaise sounded delicious together. And, since it's from a restaurant in Florida, I named this Sunshine Chicken Salad :)
This was also a great opportunity to use the pea shoots that I started indoors last month. I was anxious to see something green growing so just put a small handful of pea seeds in some seed starting soil and look what I have now! They added another wonderful and flavorful dimension to the salad.
Sunshine Chicken Salad
Serves 2 as a main course salad
Add as much of each ingredient as you like, according to your preference!
2 cooked chicken breasts halves (roasted, poached or rotisserie chicken breast), diced
1 organic Gala Apple, cored and diced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted pecans, broken into pieces
1-2 green onions, sliced thin, saving some of the green part for garnish
1/2 cup Hellmans or Best Foods mayonaisse
2 teaspoons concentrated orange juice, or use freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon grated organic orange rind, optional
Small bunch of snipped pea shoots, optional
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook chicken breast, allow to cool and then dice.
In a small saute pan, melt a little butter and add the pecans. Toast, tossing them around in the pan until fragrant and beginning to brown, slightly. Add a pinch of salt and toss. Place on paper toweling to cool.
Make the orange mayonnaise by adding the orange concentrate or fresh orange juice and zest, if using. Stir thoroughly to combine and taste test. Add more orange juice, if desired.
In a large bowl, combine the diced chicken, diced apple, cranberries, pecans, and sliced green onions.
Add the orange mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and toss to coat, adding more mayo, if necessary.
Cool for at least 1 hour to let the flavors combine and serve on a bed of lettuce and top with additional green onion and pea shoots, if available.