Spring Chicken Salad

We're super-busy this week, so bring on the easy dinners! One of my favorite things to make ahead of time is chicken salad, and spring is the perfect season for it. All my favorite herbs to throw into a chicken salad are just coming up now, and it's lovely to have them back after a long winter. Here's how I make my favorite chicken salad.

Spring Chicken Salad

makes about 4 servings (1/2 cup each)

for the chicken:

2 chicken breasts, deboned and without skin
1 small head of garlic
4-5 sprigs of rosemary
olive oil

for the dressing:

1/2 cup mayonaise
2 Tbs dijon mustard
1/8 tsp curry powder
1 large lovage leaf (and possibly its stem, if it's a fresh, young leaf)
2 chive leaves
3 green scallion leaves (or 1 small, whole scallion including the bulb)
1 large sprig thyme
1 large or 2 small ribs celery

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat chicken dry and brown in a hot pan:

There are three chicken breasts here, but I only used two in the chicken salad. Jonas insisted on having his plain. Pre-heat the pan to medium-high and don't put the chicken in until it's hot. Cook on each side until brown, but not cooked through.

2. While the chicken browns, line a baking dish with rosemary and throw in the head of garlic, separated into cloves. Drizzle olive oil over all of it:

Take the time to make sure each garlic clove is coated in oil. I just flipped them and rubbed them in the oil to be sure. This will keep the papers from burning.

3. Place browned chicken breasts into the baking pan atop the herbs and oil. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika:

4. Bake chicken uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, or until cooked through:

5. While the chicken is baking, gather your herbs:

Dice them finely and set aside. For scallions and chives, I find snipping them with kitchen shears to be much easier than using a knife. For the thyme, just strip the eaves from the stems, since the leaves are so tiny anyway. Lovage and celery you can chop up the normal way.

6. When chicken is done, allow to rest while you deal with the garlic in the baking pan. Slip the now-roasted cloves from the skins and mash into a paste in the bottom of a large mixing bowl:

Then add mayonnaise, mustard, and curry powder and mix together well:

7. Cut chicken into small cubes:

You can do this fast by slicing first one way, then turning it 90 degrees to slice again. 

8. Add chicken and herbs to the dressing in the mixing bowl and stir together gently, until combined:

9. Enjoy! I had mine in pitas with some pasta salad:

I also added some spinach to my pita sandwiches, but you can't really tell because it's hiding underneath all that good chicken salad. I didn't actually have any celery yet when I made this (it is growing very, very slowly), but it does make a big difference, and you should definitely add it, assuming you are not constrained by a personal food challenge of some sort.


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