Chicken Salad isn’t just for sandwiches. Fill your Chicken Salad with the goodness of Broccoli, Grapes, and Sunflower Seeds all tossed in a tangy Chili Sauce.
So it’s getting hot outside, and I am using the oven less and less. I really love the simplicity and freshness of summer cooking. When using the oven is not the most desirable option (hello, it was 100 degrees today), I look to my garden and my refrigerator for cool solutions.
Chicken Salad Options
I could eat chicken salad every day. No joke. It is one of the most versatile dishes that you can make. There really is not much that is off limits. I do find that I have some criteria that I follow regarding what I will add to my chicken salad:
- Something Sweet – This may include dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, or cherries. But don’t count out fresh fruit. This recipe calls for red grapes, but how about fresh blueberries? Apples? Pears? Mandarin orange slices? Seriously, a little bit of sweetness really makes chicken salad amazing. Just stay clear of frozen fruit. It will discolor your salad and often make it a bit soggy.
- Something Crunchy – Texture is sometimes an overlooked part of recipe. I love to add something with a little bit of crunch to the mix. This recipe calls for sunflower seeds, but pepitas, slivered almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds would be amazing as well.
- Something Green – I mean this quite literally. I love a generous pop of green in one pot meals. Most often that green comes from fresh kale, spinach, or arugula. But today I chopped up some fresh broccoli. My son is really on a raw broccoli kick (how great is that?). Raw broccoli turned out to be a great addition.
- Something Cheesy – My family really loves cheese (I mean they REALLY love cheese), so I am not shy about including some diced cheese in this dish. I opted to add Muenster cheese but you could certainly opt for cheddar, Colby, or just about any other cheese that you love.
Let’s Talk Chicken
What are your options for chicken? Well, you could certainly grill up a few chicken breasts for this recipe. Let them cool and shred them up. If you really want to avoid the heat, you could pick up a precooked rotisserie chicken or some cooked, packaged chicken. Costco sells amazing precooked, grilled chicken breast slices. They come in two, one pound packages. There’s no junk in them, and they are delicious. That extra grill flavor will really add something great to your chicken salad. While this is a recipe for chicken salad, turkey would be equally delicious.
Mayonnaise or Dressing
So what do you stir into your chicken salad? Are you a traditional “it has to have mayonnaise” type? I am. But there are other options. You could stir in your favorite salad dressing or make a quick yogurt dressing. I’ve stirred in bean dip (it was so good), but for this recipe I created a simple dressing from mayonnaise and sweet Thai chili sauce. I love the sweet and spicy notes of the chili sauce with the tang of the mayonnaise. And if you are concerned about the dressing being too spicy, I can assure that it is not (I do not do well with spicy foods).
Chicken Salad with Broccoli, Grapes, and Sunflower Seeds
2 cups finely chopped, cooked white meat chicken
1 cup finely chopped raw broccoli florets
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup finely cubed Muenster Cheese
1 cup sliced red grapes
1/3 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
Cook approximately 2 medium sized chickens breasts until cooked through. Allow to cool. Finely chop the chicken. You will need 2 cups of chopped chicken. You may also used precooked rotisserie chicken or precooked packaged chicken as well. Place into a bowl.
Remove the tough stems from the broccoli. Finely chop the florets. There should be enough to yield 1 cup chopped. Add to chicken.
Finely dice the red onion. Add to the bowl.
Finely dice the cheese of your choice. I used Muenster cheese, but cheddar, Monterey Jack cheese, and Colby would taste great. Add to the bowl.
Slice seedless red grapes into approximately 3-4 slices per grape (depending on size of grapes). You will need 1 cup of sliced grapes. Add to the bowl.
Add the sunflower seeds to the bowl. Stir.
Place the mayonnaise and chili sauce into a small bowl. Stir together until combined. Fold the dressing into the chicken mixture until well combined. If desired, you can add up to two additional tablespoons of mayonnaise if you like a chicken salad with more moisture.
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within 2 days.
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