Too hot to cook? Make this classic chicken salad from Whole Foods Market, but keep cool by using store-bought rotisserie chickens instead of baking your own. The description of this salad in the Whole Foods Market Cookbook says it all: “The tender chicken breast, crunchy pecans, and the juicy bursting of sweet grapes with each bite are hard to top. Poppy seeds help orchestrate flavors and textures into one of the best chicken salads you will ever find.” I “Whole-heartedly” agree!
Sonoma Chicken Salad
The Whole Foods Market Cookbook
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste.
2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
To Prepare the Dressing:
1. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, and salt and pepper.
2. Reserve the dressing in the refrigerator.
3. This step may be done 2 days prior to preparing the salad.
To Prepare the Salad:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover the dish with foil, and bake the chicken breasts for 25 minutes, until cooked completely through.
3. Remove the chicken breasts from the pan, cool slightly at room temperature, and then completely chill, lightly covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
4. When the breasts are cold, dice them into bite-size pieces, and transfer the pieces to a large bowl.
5. Combine the chicken with the pecans, grapes, celery, and dressing.
1. Toasting the pecans are a must to bring out their crunch and flavor. Avoid heating up the oven and the house just to toast small amount of nuts. I buy large bags of pecans, walnuts, and almonds at Costco and toast them in the oven all at the same time, each variety on its own tray. After they cool down, I put them in an air-tight containers and freeze them for future use.
2. I doubled the recipe and used the chicken breasts and thighs from two store-bought rotisserie chickens. Believe me, you’ll want to double the recipe, so that you don’t have to cook the next day. This salad makes tasty leftovers!
3. I served the salad on a bed of fresh lettuce greens, but according to the cookbook, it also “makes a great sandwich” and is “delicious when stuffed inside a melon half for brunch or dinner.”