Waldorf Chicken Salad

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WALDORF CHICKEN SALAD - Loaded with lean protein and fresh produce and perfect as a packable lunch or quick dinner

Loaded with lean protein and fresh produce, this hearty salad perfectly balances savory and sweet ingredients while hitting all the right texture notes. Enjoy as a packable lunch or easy dinner!

 

 

Waldorf salad always reminds me of my grandmother. It was the first non-baked good she taught me how to make-I was probably seven or eight-years-old-and I was intrigued by what struck me at the time as an odd pairing of ingredients.

She explained that this crisp, crunchy combination was an easy alternative to a green salad made with ingredients we usually had on hand. She also told me that if we added leftover chicken, the salad would stand in for an entree.

My grandmother worked long days, so she was big on anything that was quick, easy and/or allowed for advance preparation. This recipe checks all of those boxes.

Plus there’s more history behind this salad than my grandmother teaching me to make it many years ago! The original Waldorf salad, which contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise (chopped walnuts later became a signature part of the dish) was created at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 - and not by a chef but by the maître d’hôtel (dining room manager). Served atop a bed of lettuce, the Waldorf salad was an instant success.

WALDORF CHICKEN SALAD - Loaded with lean protein and fresh produce and perfect as a packable lunch or quick dinner

There have been countless iterations of this salad in the ensuing years. Raisins, dried cranberries and grapes have been added for an extra hint of sweetness. There are grain-, slaw- and kale-based adaptations ⇩⇩ as well as salads spiked with blue cheese, curry powder and a variety of nuts and seeds.

Kale Waldorf Salad

The following version relies on red grapes for the extra hint of sweetness and the welcome pop of color, but you could absolutely opt for raisins, dried cranberries or even dried cherries if that’s what you have on hand.

The addition of chicken allows this sweet and savory salad to tilt slightly more to the savory side. Moreover, the lean protein base transforms the recipe from side salad to filling entree.

You can play with the ratios, using more or less of one ingredient or another. While the amount of dressing is well suited to the total amount of ingredients stated (the ingredients are lightly coated, not saturated with the dressing), there’s a little wiggle room.

If you’d like to incorporate a generous amount of greens, however, or experiment with the addition of a grain, you may wish to make 1½ times the dressing recipe so the extras can be lightly coated, too.

WALDORF CHICKEN SALAD - Loaded with lean protein and fresh produce and perfect as a packable lunch or quick dinner

I often serve this with my “Favorite Brussels Sprouts Salad” (a recipe that I should share soon!), although a simple bed of greens or side of roasted broccoli is equally delightful. A dinner roll is another lovely addition, and I often serve the salad with corn muffins.

And by all means, use leftover chicken, or rotisserie if you prefer. Slow cookers fans and anyone who appreciates the convenience of meal prep may enjoy this recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken for the Week.

Finally, I mentioned that curry complements the flavors in this salad beautifully. The last time I made this, I used leftover grilled chicken that I had coated with an Indian curry rub. For those who would like to try, I shared the rub recipe on my Facebook and Instagram pages. We also thought it was lovely served alongside an old favorite fall salad and Fall Slaw.

WALDORF CHICKEN SALAD - Loaded with lean protein and fresh produce and perfect as a packable lunch or quick dinner

A perfect way to make use of leftover chicken, this salad hits all the right flavor and texture notes and make satisfying lunch or easy dinner.

Waldorf Chicken Salad
Yield: 4-6 servings
Loaded with lean protein and fresh produce, this hearty salad perfectly balances savory and sweet ingredients while hitting all the right texture notes. Enjoy as a packable lunch or easy dinner.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (104g) mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped or shredded (1½ to 1¾ pounds if cooking from raw)*
  • 1½ cups chopped apple (I leave skin on; Honeycrisp, Fuji, Pink Lady, or other firm, sweet apples work well)
  • 1 lightly rounded cup red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup diced celery (I include any leaves)
  • ½ cup chopped, toasted pecans (may substitute walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds or a mix)
  • Optional for serving: chopped fresh parsley, mixed baby greens, a roll or fresh pita
Instructions

In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon, salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped chicken, and then add the apples, grapes, celery and pecans. Toss to combine and evenly coat with the dressing.

At this point you may taste and adjust seasonings to taste, adding an extra sprinkle of salt and pepper or a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired. You may enjoy the salad right away, with a sprinkle of optional fresh parsley. If time allows, however, chill the salad for an hour or so before serving to give the flavors time to meld. (Tip: In this case, you may wish to add the pecans just before serving for maximum crunch.)

Serving ideas: I often serve this salad as is but also enjoy it served on a bed of mixed baby greens. Optionally, it can be scooped into a roll or pita. Recently, I served it alongside Fall Slaw and and corn muffins to rave reviews.

Leftovers: I typically serve this salad the same day I make it, but leftovers taste delicious for at least 3 days.

Notes

*For a tender, juicy option and helpful meal prep, I recommend using my recipe for Slow Cooked Chicken For the Week. Rotisserie chicken may also be used, as can poached, baked or grilled chicken. Just take care to cook the chicken until just done (165℉ internal temperature) so as not to dry it out. For a unique but complementary flavor dimension, I linked a delightful Indian curry spice rubbed chicken in the text above the recipe card.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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