Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Curried Chicken Salad

Without question, my all-time favorite band is the Dave Matthews Band. I was slightly obsessed with them back a few years ago, and I still love them, know all the words to all their songs, and see them live at least once a year. DMB concert day is kind of like Christmas to me; I always have a great time, they never disappoint musically, and I leave feeling inspired by all the positive energy that radiates from thousands of people dancing and singing together, all getting along, for 2 1/2 hours, sharing a night of incredible music.

Dave (Milam, not Matthews) was my date to the show, and we got there early enough to do some pre-event tailgating. Call us cheap, but beer is $10 a pop inside the stadium, and the only food options are incredibly unhealthy and equally as expensive, so I packed us a picnic that we ate out of my trusty cooler sitting on the back of the CR-V. I intended to serve Giada's Antipasto Salad as a main course since it involved no mayo and seemed substantial, but I was not crazy about the taste of it after I'd created it. Of course, I did add honey to the dressing, probably didn't put enough Dijon in there, and added artichokes and more roasted red peppers and left out turkey. Either way, unsatisfied with that as a main course, I whipped up a chicken salad to bring along as well.

Curried Chicken Salad (for two servings)
1/4 cup mayo
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
juice of half a lemon
one chicken breast, cooked and diced (I prefer to roast mine in a soy sauce bath)
handful of chopped pecans
1 celery stalk, diced
small handful of dried pineapples, chopped (or fresh pineapples, diced)
couple of tablespoons of craisins
couple of tablespoons of raisins

In a bowl, whisk together first 4 ingredients. This will be the dressing - taste it, and adjust seasonings using salt/pepper or adding more of either of the dressing ingredients based on your personal taste. Stir in the diced ingredients, chill, and serve with a crusty baguette, in a pita, or on any sort of bread/cracker.

This salad is amazing because you can put whatever you have in the fridge as part of the salad. My dressing is the only thing that stays the same when I make this time after time - that, and the addition of chicken. This is a great way to use leftover chicken. Other ingredients that are yummy here are grapes, apples, or even oranges. I originally found this recipe in "Calling All Cooks," an old-lady cookbook that was put together by the phone company years ago as a compilation of recipes from women who referred to themselves as "Mrs. So and So" instead of "First Name, Last Name." The original recipe called for just about a half jar of mayo, which was too much for me, and I found out you can reduce the mayo amount drastically and still form enough dressing.

Those two salads, with crusty bread and brownies for dessert, made a perfect little picnic dinner.

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