July in Virginia can guarantee only one thing – oppressive, cut it with a knife, heat and humidity . It was 112°F with the heat index today! When it is this hot out I can’t stand the idea of turning the oven on, or the stove, or even the microwave, but a girl still has to eat. That is where chicken salad comes in – easy, no-cooking-needed, cold chicken salad. The trick to keeping your kitchen cool is to use pre-cooked chicken. For this batch of chicken salad I used chicken thighs I had roasted a few days before in a basic herb and spice rub. I prefer dark meat in my chicken salad because it doesn’t require a ton of dressing to make it moist.
Like many people, I enjoy a traditional chicken salad sandwich with nuts, apples, and grapes, but they tend to get a bit tired. No matter where you buy these sandwiches – Panera, Subway, Au Bon Pain – they are all too similar and too sweet for what I was craving. I also knew I wanted some great crunch and lots of veggies in the salad. I chose cucumber mainly because I had just picked 2 huge cucumber from the garden and the red pepper needed to be used up before I went away for the weekend.
Savory Chicken Salad
• 1 large cucumber (mine was more like extra large)
• 1 large red pepper
• 1 medium red onion, more or less to taste
• 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 2 cups cooked diced chicken
• 2-3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise (I like my chicken salad drier so feel free to add more mayo)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tsp mustard powder
1) Finely dice the red pepper and onion. Remove the soft seeded center of the cucumber and dice the crunchy outside.
2) Crush and dice your garlic as finely as possible. You can also substitute 1.5 – 2 tsp garlic powder if dicing garlic isn’t your thing.
3) Mix together the vegetables and diced chicken, add the salt, pepper, and mustard, stirring well to incorporate the spices throughout the mixture.
4) Add mayo (and mustard if you choose to use stone ground mustard instead of mustard powder.)
5) Serve chilled on crackers or as a sandwich.
In the end, I really liked this salad although I will add a dash of chili pepper or maybe horseradish to add a “bite” to the salad. I also would have rather used stone ground mustard for its stronger flavor and cut down on the mayo.