Here’s a big, speedy chicken salad to serve as a main course. Quick to put together using a store bought rotisserie chicken, all my favourite vegetables, a sprinkle of bacon, all tossed in a herby garlicky salad dressing.
Make this for dinner tonight, work tomorrow, or a leisurely weekend lunch with friends!
Quick Chicken Salad
If you’ve got the time, or are wanting to impress with an entirely “from scratch” main course size salad, I’d point you in the direction of one of these:
- San Fran Chicken Salad – my best, most impressive chicken salad. With Yogurt Ranch Dressing, snow pea shoots, fennel, pickled red onion and orange, it’s a copycat of a popular dish at Souvla, a trendy bistro in San Francisco;
- Lemon Chicken Salad – beautiful bright lemon flavours, the lemon dressing does double duty as a chicken marinade and dressing;
- Celebration Salmon Salad – the smoked salmon version of the San Fran Salad, a giant salad made for special occasions; and
- Sweet Potato Salad – a big, juicy meat free salad that I make even when there’s no vegetarians present!
This chicken salad is for all the other times when there’s a need for speed. Bright and colourful enough to proudly serve to friends at a leisurely Sunday lunch. Substantial enough for dinner tonight. Delicious enough to make your coworkers jealous during lunch break tomorrow!
What you need
Here’s what I put in this chicken salad. It follows my basic formula for main course size salads:
- something meaty* – chicken;
- something leafy – cos/romaine;
- something juicy – tomato;
- something crunchy – cucumber;
- something sweet – corn;
- something sharp/tangy – onion;
- a treat – bacon!
- dressing – I’m using a herby garlic one for this dressing. It’s a speedy dressing that packs a good flavour punch from the herbs but doesn’t require the effort to finely chop fresh herbs (though you absolutely can – and my favourite combos are listed in the recipe)
* Something “meaty” doesn’t necessarily mean meat. It can be roasted sweet potato, chickpeas, lentils – just something to fill you up and keep you full!
Given this is a speedy recipe, it’s made with a store bought rotisserie chicken. If you want to make your own, use this poached chicken recipe (the juiciest breast you’ll ever make!), baked chicken breast, leftover roast chicken (try the brined version one day!) or any leftover cooked chicken you have.
I have a container in the freeze in which I accumulate bits of leftover chicken that I use for things like this salad (quesadilla is another common use for leftover chicken bits).
How to make this speedy chicken salad
It probably comes off as a bit condescending to show you these steps, being that this is quite a basic recipe! It’s more out of habit given that I show steps for every recipe I do.
I did say this was a BIG chicken salad… it is very, very big! It will make a filling meal for 4 normal people, 3 with very very big appetites, or 6 people who are pretending to diet.
How long it keeps, how to serve it etc
Once dressed, the leafy greens will start to get a bit soggy after around 30 minutes due to the oil in the dressing. So if you’re making ahead, keep the dressing separate and cut the avocado just before serving (see the video at 40 seconds to see a speedy way to cut avocado chunks that you can totally do in your office at your desk!).
If you’re transporting half an avocado to work, just drizzle the cut face with lemon juice and tuck it into your salad lunch box, or put it in an airtight container with half an onion (the acid in the onion stops the avocado from going brown).
As for serving it, I think you’ll find this is substantial enough as it is to have as a main course. But of course, if you want to fill it out, nobody’s going to say no to some freshly made crusty bread, right??
Watch how to make it
Chicken Salad – quick, easy, BIG!
- 3 cups store bought roast chicken , shredded (Note 1)
- 12 cups cos / romaine lettuce (2 medium, 1 giant) , chopped into bite size pieces (or other leafy greens)
- 1 cup corn kernels (can, drained – about 2/3 can)
- 1/2 red onion , finely sliced
- 300g/ 10oz cherry or grape tomatoes (or 2 normal tomatoes chopped)
- 2 cucumbers , halved lengthwise then sliced 1cm / 1/3″ (or 1 long English/telegraph cucumber)
- 2 avocados , cut into bite size chunks (or 1 giant one)
- 150g/ 5oz bacon , cooked until crisp then chopped (optional)
- 2 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar (Note 2)
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove , minced using garlic press (~1 tsp)
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard (or any smooth, non spicy mustard, optional)
- 2 tsp dried mixed herbs (Note 3 for subs)
- 1 tsp sugar , optional (Note 4)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Dressing: Place ingredients in a jar, shake, set aside for at least 10 minutes to let flavours meld.
Salad: Place all ingredients except bacon in a big bowl. Drizzle over most of the Dressing, then toss well.
Transfer to serving bowl, drizzle with remaining Dressing. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve immediately!
2. Vinegar – can also use sherry, white wine, red wine or champagne vinegar, or lemon juice. If using normal white vinegar, add 1 tsp sugar and increase oil slightly (taste and adjust). If using lime, consider using 1/4 cup fresh coriander/cilantro instead of dried herbs (really great combo!).
3. Herbs – I use a generic mixed herb here, in the name of speed. And Italian herb mix would go down a treat too, or use all oregano to give it a Greek spin (not unlike the Greek Marinated Chickpea Salad I shared last week). Or make up your own mix using things like: rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil.
4. Sugar?!! I often get asked why I seem to “always” including sugar in my dressings. It’s to take the sharp edge off vinegar so I can get away with using less oil to make the dressing lower calorie. Typical oil to vinegar ratio is 3:1, I usually use 2.5 : 1 or less. But I list it as optional because so many people seem put off by adding a tiny bit of sugar in dressings!
FRESH herbs: delightful! Use 1/4 cup to get a good hit (this is a BIG salad). My favourite combos:
- Dill and parsley (equal amounts, inspired by this Iceberg Lettuce Salad from a friend, these two herbs together are sensational)
- 1/4 cup chives, parsley or basil
- 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme plus 2 tbsp chives or parsley
4. Storage – salad stays good for around 30 minutes after tossing with dressing (oil makes the leaves soggy). To make ahead, assemble salad but don’t cut avocado and keep dressing separate.
If meal prepping just one portion, leave avocado whole and cut just prior to serving (see video at 40 sec, you don’t need a cutting board, just a knife and spoon). Cut avo in half (or quarter, whatever you want) then drizzle cut surface with lemon and put in airtight container (good for 24 hrs) OR put in airtight container with a halved onion (good for 3 days as long as container is super airtight). Dress just prior to serving.
5. Nutrition per serving, excludes bacon.
Life of Dozer
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