One of my favorite make-ahead meals is chicken salad. Refreshing, filling, and reasonably healthy, it is the perfect summertime dish. Today’s version, my Rave Apple Chicken Salad includes celery, onions, an avocado oil-based mayonnaise, and amazing Rave apples.
Rave apples are wonderful, crisp, juicy, and tart, with a short season during August each year. Run to your store and grab a bunch of them now!
Rave apples are a cross between a Honeycrisp and MonArk with bright red skin with splashes of yellow. They are extremely juicy, refreshing, and pleasingly tart. They are the first fruits of Washington’s apple season, and everyone anxiously awaits their arrival. Raves are exclusively grown and sold by Stemilt Growers and because they are so juicy, are best used fresh in recipes rather than baked or cooked.
They may be a bit tart for some for eating out of hand, but when combined with the savory chicken, vegetables, and sauce in this salad, they add the perfect bright hit in every bite.
Chicken salad is the quintessential summer/fall meal. It can be made ahead, holds in the refrigerator and is good served cool or at room temperature. I love to take it (on ice) to picnics and potlucks. It is always a favorite in our family.
It is unendingly versatile and always popular. You can use any of your favorite fruits for pops of sweetness that are a lovely counterpoint to the savory chicken. Adding pecans or other nuts gives you a nice crunchiness that complements the crisp apples for a very satisfying texture. If you can’t have nuts, just leave them out and it will still be delicious.
I hope you make this Rave Apple Chicken Salad while we still have warm days and the cold salad is refreshing and vibrant!
Have a wonderful weekend my friends ~ see you back here for Chocolate Monday
Disclosure: I received produce from Stemilt World Famous Fruit for photography and for use in recipe development. Thank you for supporting my partnerships with brands that I love to work with. As always, all opinions are my own.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Leave the beautiful red skin on the apples for pops of bright color in every forkful!
This recipe is naturally gluten-free!
Instant Pot Rave Apple Chicken Salad
Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook © 2018 all rights reserved
Yield: about 8 servings
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/4 cups chicken stock
2 to 3 tsp Penzey’s Southwest Seasoning (or a blend of ancho powder, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, cumin, chipotle powder, and cilantro)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 tsp cooking liquid from the chicken, optional
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cooked chicken (from above)
1 to 2 tsp cooking liquid from the chicken
3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
2 cups chopped Rave apples (cut into small bite sized pieces)
3 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 green onions trimmed and thinly sliced
Whole pecan halves, for garnishing (optional)
Washed individual lettuce leaves, for serving
Cook the Chicken: Place the chicken and stock in the inner pot of your electric pressure cooker. Sprinkle with the seasoning blend, salt, and pepper to taste. Lock the lid in place and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 4 minutes then quick release the remaining steam. Carefully open the lid and set aside. An instant read thermometer should register at least 160°F when inserted in the thickest part. If it needs more time, return to the pot, replace the lid and let it sit for a few minutes to finish cooking it.
Use tongs to transfer the chicken pieces to a baking sheet, and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Loosely cover with a sheet of foil and set aside to rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
Alternately you can poach the chicken in the stock in a Dutch oven, cover with stock, season to taste and bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low to hold the liquid at a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then move off the heat and leave the chicken in the liquid to cool.
Prepare the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise (start with 1/2 cup), cooking liquid, thyme, zest, salt, and pepper. I like my salad on the dry side so add more mayo if needed and a little more of the cooking liquid if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. You can make the dressing up to a day ahead.
Assemble the Salad: Cut the rested chicken into bite-sized chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the pecans, apples, celery, and onions. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss again until everything is evenly coated. Add more dressing if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper if needed. Chill until ready to serve.
To Serve: Place a lettuce leaf on each serving plate. Add a scoop of the chicken salad, sprinkle with a few extra pecans and serve. Alternately, you can use the same mixture to make sandwiches (use gluten-free bread if needed).
Note: If you prefer, you can use grapes, pears, fresh pineapple cubes, dried cranberries, or other favorite fruits in the salad.
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