Fridge Staples: Cranberry Chicken Salad
In order to keep myself from eating certain “dangerous foods” that reside in my pantry, I always keep a stock of ready-to-eat filling dishes like this chicken salad in the fridge. If I open the refrigerator door and there’s nothing inside to nibble on, stop #2 is the pantry, where I know I can only find foods that tend to be of the more calories and less filling variety, like the Girl Scout cookies that keep calling my name. My fridge staples help me stay away!
Need a quick lunch? Layer some chicken salad on crusty bread with tomato slices and greens, and you’re set. Need to nibble on a little bit of protein? I grab a whole wheat cracker, put a spoonful of chicken salad on it, and find that it tides me over for a while.
Chicken salad can be done in so many ways, but I find the three staples I must always have in any version is some crisp chopped celery, red onion, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice:
Extra goodies in this recipe come in the form of dried cranberries (love!) and freshly chopped basil leaves. Another favorite of mine? Curry chicken salad.
But what’s the most important ingredient in a chicken salad? Time. The chicken salad gets better when it gets a chance to sit in the fridge and have the flavors meld, which is why it’s the perfect fridge staple. Enjoy!
Do you have any fridge staples that you always like to keep on hand? Share your fridge staples in the comments section discussion below.
PS Store your celery in a tiny bit of water in the fridge to help it stay fresh longer. I show you how to store celery in this video.
Cranberry Chicken Salad
Yield: Serves 4, easily doubles, triples, etc
2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion
about 20 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp greek yogurt
salt and pepper
1 tsp apricot jam (don't sub other jams here)
1 tsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
If you don't know how to cook the chicken breasts, the way I like to do it is to shallow poach them in a wide skillet. Add enough chicken stock or water to the bottom of the pan to create a shallow layer (about 1/2 cup liquid total) and add the seasoned chicken breasts. Cook over medium heat with a lid on the pan, and flip them after 10 minutes or so. You want to cook the chicken breasts until they read at 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Also make sure you don't take the heat above medium because you want the chicken to cook gently and slowly. Allow the chicken to cool completely, then chop into pieces.
Mix together the chopped chicken, celery, red onion, basil, cranberries, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, apricot jam, and whole grain mustard. Add 2 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Now taste the chicken salad and see if it needs more lemon juice, salt or pepper, keeping in mind the flavors will develop more in a few hours. The chicken salad can be served with crackers or in sandwiches. Enjoy!
Disclosure: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link for the thermometer I use, love, and recommend.