Why Chicken Salad as a Winter dish? Sometimes, I just want something light and fresh, and grapes, an often overlooked standby, are always going on and off sale at my grocery. This is, of course, great in the summer, too. I like to serve this with a green salad or on crunchy 12 grain bread – I just pile it on and make sure everyone has forks and napkins – there will be spillage!
Recipe: Fruited Chicken Salad, serves 4 generously, cost $4.18
- 2 chicken breast half, preferably bone-in, skin on, about 10 ounces
2 cups grapes, sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon tarragon, or basil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, or cashews
Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour. (This is for a 14 – 15 oz chicken breast half, bone in.) Remove from oven and let cool as you put together the other ingredients, then remove the bone and chop.
Cut grapes in half, slice or dice celery and dice onion. I like to use the celery leaves in the salad, and then later in the garnish, too.
Put all into a bowl, add mayo, honey, Dijon and tarragon. Check and make sure it tastes good to you; I like it strongly flavored and a little zippy, but adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. Salt and pepper to taste, remembering when you add nuts, they may be salty.
Just before serving add cashews or sunflower seeds. If I know I’m going to have leftovers, I only put the nuts or seeds in the portion I’ll be eating as they get soggy over time.
The next day, this will not look as attractive as the mayo will mingle with the grape juices and get a little watery, but it will taste even better.
Time and Money Saving Strategies:
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
Use this recipe when you have leftover chicken.
- Chicken: Buy at the lowest prices you see and freeze until you need it. Mine was from several weeks ago when chicken reached $1.29 at the store for the first time this year. I often bake an extra breast just for this salad or another dish when I’m making chicken breast for dinner. Save the bone in a Ziploc bag in your freezer until you’ve accumulated enough to make a broth. You could speed up this process, too, by using a poached boneless skinless breast; I think the oven roasted bone in breast adds a bit more flavor. This is also a good candidate for leftover turkey! $1.55
- Grapes: They are on and off sale all the time, all year round. Buy them on sale if they look good. Be sure to wash them very thoroughly, even if they already look clean – they’re on the top 12 list of foods that retain pesticides. Notice I’ve sliced mine, a chore in the past before I saw Rachel Ray slice grape tomatoes and thought to apply the same principle to grapes. Scroll down for the surprising method. Per pound look for $1.29 to 99 cents. Cost 50 cents.
- Celery: Again, often on sale, usually just a few cents lower than regular price, try to pick up around $.99 or lower. No sense in wasting those pennies as celery keeps well. If it’s awkward to fit in your fridge, just trim off the root end and put it in your stock bag. I save these items all week and make a stock almost every weekend. If not, I freeze them. Think while you have your celery out if it might be worthwhile to slice, dice or cut it for another recipe you’re making later in the week. This is another item you’ll want to wash thoroughly. Cost 20 cents.
- Red Onion: Again, another vegetable that does get discounted now and then. Buy several when they’re on sale because they keep, literally for months. Red onion does have a strong, fresh bite, so if you don’t care for that substitute green onion. I try to have several ideas in mind as to how I’ll use my red onion before I cut into it because I generally don’t use the whole onion in any one recipe. If I can’t use it before it’s on its way to going bad, I’ll saute it quickly, put in a Ziploc and label for later. Cost 10 cents.
- Mayonnaise: I buy several jars throughout the summer so I’ll have cheap mayo all year round. I have to say I prefer Hellmanns, but as you can see, I’ve picked up Kraft due to price. Best to buy in the summer with coupons, I often find for $1.00 a jar. The small sacrifices add up. You could use yogurt or greek yogurt, the thicker the better in this. Make your own by layering cheese cloth over a strainer, placing the whole works in a bowl, making sure sure there is space between the strainer and the bowl and then loosely covering it and placing in the fridge for 12 to 36 hours. Cost 5 cents.
- Honey: I often buy, of all places, at Walgreens. They’ll put their honey on sale several times a year with a little coupon in their ad for the discount. They’re pricing beats almost any I’ve seen for basic honey. Now and then, I’ll pick up nice honey at the farmer’s market or even a farm I happen to by driving by. Their stronger, floral flavors mean I’ll be able to use less in a lot of applications. Cost 40 cents.
- Sunflower Seeds and other nuts: Often on sale during the winter holidays, look for coupons from the producer, too, at that time. Aldi’s often has inexpensive nuts. As you can see, I picked up a little bag of snack nuts for a few pennies, this time. Store nuts in your freezer. Cost 40 cents.
- Bread: Buy on sale and freeze – I double wrap and thaw in the fridge overnight. This is Brownberries wide-pan Oatmeal. There are coupons now and then that coincide with sales. Cost for bread $1.99, eight slices are 88 cents.
To cut your grapes, lay down a lid, ones from cottage cheese or sour cream are even better, but I did mine with my storage container lid. Fill it with your grapes in a single layer. Oddly enough, one cup of grapes fits almost exactly on the lid when you leave the center empty. Put a second lid on top and press firmly down with your hand and run a sharp knife horizontally between the two lids:
Nutrition: Per Serving: 453 Calories; 36g Fat (66.8% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 33mg Cholesterol; 248mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 Fruit; 3 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.
The fat content is a little high, but some of that is from the nuts; I also count on serving this in a sandwich or over lettuce greens, which improves the total ratio for the meal. You could use a reduced fat Mayo or Greek, homemade Greek style, or regular lowfat yogurt. See under Money & Time Saving Strategies, above.
Put Your Own Spin on It:
- I like to load this salad up with as many veggies and fruits as I think my family will tolerate. It’s certainly fine with less, if you have picky eaters, or it also makes a great vegetarian salad without the chicken.
- Vary your fruits or try any combination you like. This is perfect in the summer with freshly ripe nectarines.
- It’s also very good with precooked wild rice and/or waterchestnuts.
- I can’t help but think how gorgeous this would be served layered in a clear glass bowl at a potluck or function, then mixed on the spot, or even in “Salad Jars” to take to work like I saw on “Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body.
This recipe uses very familiar ingredients that I know even my son will eat, and feels a little light and festive during the long winter season.