Mom’s Chicken Salad

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I’m sorry for my long absence—I’m sure you’ve all starved without me. I’ve finally gotten back into the flow of school, and homework once again dominates my “free” time—hence the month-long hiatus from Feast.

On to more exciting topics: Jonji and I got a new love seat and a new couch! You might be thinking, hang on—didn’t they just get a new couch? Yes, yes we did. This newest couch was another Craigslist find, and originally we meant to only buy the love seat. But it was too big to fit in the Volvo, which meant we had to go a few blocks down and rent a U-haul. And since we had the room for the couch after all, we ended up buying that too, since they’re both such high quality. Then the race began—we had a limited time to use the U-haul, which meant that we had to rush home, maneuver everything inside, get cash out for the couch, and make it back to U-haul in time to drop it off. We barely made it to U-haul in time and then, sweating profusely, dropped the cash off at couch-man’s place. Once home, we traipsed into our living room which now contained not one, but three couches. If you’ve ever seen our living room, you will know that it has a hard time fitting even two couches—needless to say, I couldn’t stand the sight of it. The only one who loved the new set up was Kitty, who thought a room stuffed with couches was heaven on earth. Fortunately for us, and sadly for Kitty, we sold the old couch rather quickly. The best part about LA? The quick Craigslist turnover, clearly.

Last weekend I joined forces with my arch nemesis, the local ant colony, to battle an even greater foe: maggots. If you’re ever had to deal with a maggot infestation, you’ll know how revolting it is. Not only do they look disgusting, they also make the absolute grossest popping noise when you squish them. Am I making you eager to see my recipe yet? Anyway, the ants stopped their siege of our apartment long enough to lead me to the maggot source, then proceeded to carry any maggot stragglers that I had missed back to the ant colony. Thanks ants, I hate you slightly less now.

This past weekend Jonji and I went down to Abbot Kinney with his friend Jess, from Davis, and her friend Andrea, also from UCD. We got drinks and appetizers, then wandered down the strip looking for a good dinner spot. We finally decided to go to Gjelina, even though there was a bit of a wait. We chatted over another round of drinks (crazy night, I know) until our table was ready. The food was splendid, especially the nettle pizza and the ricotta gnocchi. But the best part of the night was when Jonji, after coming back from a trip to the bathroom, told us that he was 80 percent sure he had just seen Leonardo DiCaprio sitting in the patio. Of course we all then took turns inconspicuously checking whether or not it was him, until Jonji went back and got the full face view, therefore confirming our suspicions.

Side note: new book review up! This one was for a new book that I got through the Blogging for Books program (which is awesome—if you have a blog, check it out). See the review in the Reviews section (I made things super difficult for you all!), or click here.

Oh! Another side note: I was listening to NPR a couple of weeks ago and I heard some comforting news. Apparently, new studies show that eating a Mediterranean-style diet—specifically, at least 2 tbsp of olive oil a day—greatly reduces one’s risk of breast cancer. So, if you’ve been avoiding the lovely, fatty oil, it may be time to start using a little more. Make your small glug a little bigger, perhaps. I feel pretty excited, because I definitely have a minimum of 2 tbsp a day. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the studies are truly accurate!

It has been supremely, uncomfortably hot down here in LA lately, which has made cooking an extremely sweaty experience. Being the crazy person that I am, I insist on making soups and sauces and other hot dishes even in 95° weather—it’s October, for crying out loud! Fall calls for warm meals, despite what the thermometer says.

The following recipe is not a hot dish. In fact, it’s quite refreshing. This salad is one of the OG Dawn recipes—it’s definitely one for someone with a long school or work day, or someone with a few kids lobbying for their attention. I distinctly remember eating this salad at home as a kid, and Bailey complaining about the dill (as always). Since then, I’ve tweaked a couple elements, but it still retains the same comforting qualities. Crunchy apple and celery chunks mix with herbs and almonds on top of crisp lettuce to produce a fresh and satisfying dish. It’s simple, refreshing, and easy to prepare elements ahead of time. I like to make the chicken the day before a busy day, so all I have to do is finish chopping ingredients for the salad. Enjoy!

Mom’s Chicken Salad

serves 4

2 bone-in chicken breasts
juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper

1/2 red onion, roughly diced
1.5 tbsp butter
1 glug olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

1 large apple (preferably fuji or something a little tart), chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly diced
1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley, finely chopped
1.5 tbsp chopped dill (optional)

1 large head of lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
good handful of feta

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste in a mortar and pestle
pinch of salt
1/2 cup olive oil

For the chicken: to make the marinade, add the lime juice, minced garlic, 2 tbsp vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to a small bowl and whisk. Place the chicken, skin side up, in a shallow baking pan and cover with the marinade. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Once the oven is ready, bake the chicken for 45–50 minutes (5–10 min less for boneless breasts). Set aside to cool.

Make the onions: heat a medium pan over medium heat and add the 1.5 tbsp butter and glug of olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the onion. Sauteé for 5–10 minutes, until the onion is lightly caramelized. Set aside.

Combine the apple, celery, almonds, parsley, and dill (if using) in a large bowl. Once the onion is ready, mix that into the bowl.

Make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a jar and shake. Taste for seasoning.

Pour half of the vinaigrette onto the apple mixture and mix. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and crumble the feta on top, then mix in the rest of the vinaigrette.

I like to bring both bowls to the table so that anyone can have control over their green salad-to-salad ratio, but if you want to plate it yourself simply serve the greens salad on bottom and place a hefty spoonful or two of the apple salad on top.

One response to “Mom’s Chicken Salad”

  1. […] This recipe is perfect for cold, rainy nights (or any night, for that matter). Bailey keeps insisting that I post it, calling the chicken and its broth “heaven,” and “all I want to eat!” It goes beautifully with mashed potatoes and braised carrots, parsnips, and spinach. I like to make it on Sundays. Leftovers are perfect for chicken soup, thai soup, or chicken salad. […]

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