Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad

Lunch. It might be my least favorite meal of the day. During the school year, when I'm working, it has to be something easily packed and toted to school, which requires planning ahead. (I'm not a big school cafeteria fan.) I tend to stray from foods that need to be heated up, because if you end up at the end of the microwave line, then you have no time to eat! I often pack sandwiches, but you can only eat PB+J or turkey & cheese so many times before it gets a little boring.  

  Today I'm sharing one of my favorite lunches, Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad. This creamy chicken salad is light and refreshing, filled with crisp apples, celery, golden raisins, and dried cranberries. It's not too heavy, but filling enough to keep you energized throughout the afternoon. (Ever had one of those lunches that pretty much puts you right to sleep? Not so great when you're teaching a classroom full of high schoolers! Sometimes I wish we had nap-time in high school. :-P) I love making Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad on a Sunday afternoon, and having a quick & easy lunch option in the fridge for the entire week. It makes a lot, and the flavor actually gets better after a few days in the fridge. To get started, you need to remove all the meat from a rotisserie chicken, discarding all the skins and bones. Rotisserie chicken is key here, because it is already so flavorful. (FYI: Rotisserie chickens are on sale for just $5.99 this week at Rays & Chiefs! Plus, if you use the coupon on page 3 of the ad, you can also get a free ciabatta baguette from the bakery!)

Next up, peel and dice two crisp apples into teeny, tiny pieces. Honeycrisp apples are my favorite variety, but those aren't in season, so I used Pink Lady. Still delicious.  

  The other crunch component comes from diced celery. Two to three stalks, rinsed and diced finely.  

  Then we've got the chewy components - golden raisins and dried cranberries. (These also make delicious oatmeal cookie add-ins, if you need an idea for the leftovers.)  

  Mix together the chicken, apple, celery, and dried fruits in a large bowl.  

  Then, it's time for the seasonings - just salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper. You want to season it before you add the mayo, so that way the chicken is being seasoned and not just the mayo. After you've seasoned it, add just enough mayonnaise to lightly coat the mixture. Light mayo works just great here, if you're not a fan of regular.  

  And it's ready! If you can make it a few hours in advance, it tastes even better. I like to serve it up on soft and sweet Hawaiian rolls. I've even enjoyed it over a bed of spinach when I'm in one of my 'healthier moods'.  

  The perfect packable lunch! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad

Servings/Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 Pink Lady apples, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½-¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
Method Carve rotisserie chicken, and discard all skin and bones. Dice chicken into small chunks. Combine chicken with celery, apples, golden raisins, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, as much to your liking. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to your liking. You can eat it right away, but it gets much tastier as it sits in the fridge for several hours. (The flavors get a chance to blend together.) Serve on Hawaiian rolls.  

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