Some people are hard to forget. Take the gem of a teacher who totally gets your toddler. When my older son first went off to preschool he was, like many children, somewhat shy and had some trepidation. There was one special teacher who immediately picked up on his love of Matchbox cars and made a point of talking cars like a real pro. She knew all the makes and models and didn’t let a day go by without engaging my son in his favorite subject. In doing so, she carved out a special spot in his heart that remains 15 years later.
Several summers ago, while perusing a cookbook that the school sold as a fundraiser, I took note of a recipe with a catchy name — Summer Breeze Chicken Salad. Upon further inspection, I noticed the recipe was submitted by the one-and-only JoAnn.
As soon as peaches hit the farm stands that year, I made a bowlful of this refreshing salad. Light yet filling, everyone enjoyed the unique twist on traditional chicken salad in which sweet peaches were offset by tangy lime juice. In the summers since, I have modified the recipe slightly but wouldn’t dream of altering the name of this much loved recipe that always reminds us of a very special teacher from The New School of Lancaster.
The salad may be served on a bed of lettuce, a roll, or as an open-faced sandwich. We also like to scoop a portion onto a cabbage leaf. With this option, you can roll it up and enjoy the refreshing salad burrito-style. It can be a little messy, but it adds crunch and kid-friendly appeal. Somehow, eating the salad off a cabbage leaf adds to the fun factor and, in the process, makes something healthy seem more delicious! Iceberg, butter or romaine lettuce may also be used for wraps, but sturdy cabbage offers the advantage of large leaves that are less likely to break.
On occasion, I add a small amount of diced red bell pepper to the salad; the pepper’s sweetness and crunch complements the other ingredients nicely. Similarly, you could scoop the salad onto a seeded bell pepper half for a pretty presentation. To play up the tropical notes, try topping with diced avocado and/or unsweetened flaked coconut.
- 4 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 1 1/4 pounds cooked)*
- 2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and diced (may substitute nectarines)**
- 1/2 cup (104 grams) mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (plus the zest of one lime, optional)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger***
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions (may substitute 2 tablespoons snipped chives)
- 1/3 cup chopped salted cashews or almonds (or more to taste)
- In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice (and optional zest), sugar, ginger, salt and pepper.
- Stir in the chicken, peaches and green onions. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Prior to serving, stir in the almonds or cashews. Alternatively, sprinkle the nuts on top of individual servings.
- *To ensure the full amount of cooked chicken when starting with uncooked meat, start with a few extra ounces to account for moisture loss while cooking. Leftover grilled, baked, or rotisserie chicken may be used and makes this recipe extra easy. (For added flavor, I sometimes use leftover A-Third-A-Third-A-Third Grilled Chicken or a simple brined and baked, spice-rubbed chicken. The first recipe may be searched and printed online; feel free to email me for the latter recipe.)
- **Drain off any peach juice that collects while chopping the peaches. The stated amount of lime juice is all that's needed to slightly thin the mayo without making it too watery.
- ***The small amount of fresh ginger complements this salad nicely, but I have made it without and it’s still delicious.