A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I had made some chicken salad. I also promised to tell you about it later. Now… is later. I used to think that chicken salad consisted of chicken, sweet pickle, onion and lots and lots of mayonnaise. Since anything involving lots and lots of mayonnaise would also cost lots and lots of points, I had to revamp my thinking a bit. This chicken salad gets a little sweetness and texture from grated carrots and sliced grapes. It also gets a crunch from a very modest amount of toasted walnuts. It is slightly nutty– just like me!
I think one reason that I used to need lots of mayo was the fact that I often cooked my chicken until it was pretty dry. There is nothing worse than dry chicken salad in my book! Before you look at the upcoming photos and decide that this looks complicated (Parchment paper packets, Sweetie Pie? Really? ) believe me when I tell you that you can cook your chicken breasts however you want. It is fine if you want to roast them in the oven or poach them in a bit of water on the stove. I was just looking for a way to achieve optimum moistness, and I think that roasting them in parchment paper is a good way to do that. I should also tell you that I roasted more chicken than I needed for this recipe, and tossed some of the leftovers in my bowl of soup today. I’m planning to put some in an omelet tomorrow morning. I love having leftovers like basic cooked chicken breast because the possibilities are endless.
How I Cooked My Chicken AKA Giftwrapping the Poultry
First, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees. Then I laid a nice big sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. The paper should be pretty big. I had a nice big lemon on the counter, and I cut four slices to use as a platform for the chicken. I also sprinkled a few celery seeds over the top because that just seemed like the thing to do.
After I built the lemony platform, I placed my chicken breasts on top and sprinkled them with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper.
After I had the chicken in a single layer and nicely sprinkled with salt and pepper, I pulled the edges of the paper together and tightly crimped them creating a little package. Crimp the edges as tightly as possible because you don’t want the steam to escape. When you are tearing off your piece of parchment, keep in mind that it needs to be big enough to allow you to do this and to leave a little room inside for the steam. That’s the basic idea here. The lemons and the juice from the chicken will steam the chicken while it is roasting which will result in a moister chicken and the need for less “moisteners” in the salad.
After about 20 minutes, I checked the chicken with my meat thermometer. It needs to cook to 160 degrees. It wasn’t there yet, so I popped it back into the oven for another 5 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken breasts so you may have to check them once or twice. I unfolded and refolded the parchment with no problem. This is how they looked when they were done:
They aren’t nicely browned like they would be if I had cooked them outside of the parchment, but I think this is the best way to cook them for use in a chicken salad. A crispy browned exterior is great, but it can be a little dry for chicken salad. The chicken was very moist and shredded quite easily with a fork. I wrote the recipe (and figured the points) using 10 ounces of chicken. That was about two of these chicken breasts. As I mentioned, I’m using the extra in other ways.
Now, for the recipe:
Just Sweet Enough Slightly Nutty Chicken Salad
1/4 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise (or the light mayo of your choice)
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. vinegar (rice wine or white wine is preferable)
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/2 ounce of toasted walnuts, finely chopped
10 ounces of cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, shredded with a fork
1/2 cup halved grapes (red are the prettiest!)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Combine the first 8 ingredients (the yogurt through the carrots) in a medium sized bowl. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, and then add the chicken and the walnuts. Stir well making sure that the chicken is covered in the yogurt mixture. Fold in the grapes. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste. I used about 1/2 tsp of salt, but you may prefer more or less.
This makes 4 unofficial 3 point servings.
Note about Greek yogurt: I know that Greek yogurt has become much more widely available over the past few years. I’m a fan of the Fage 0% variety myself. If you can’t find it, you can make your own. Greek yogurt is essentially strained yogurt, and it has a texture similar to sour cream. Place a sieve or colander on top of a slightly smaller bowl so that the straining gadget stays elevated over the bottom of the bowl. Layer a paper towel in the bottom of your strainer. Put 1 cup of nonfat plain yogurt on top of the paper towel. Cover the yogurt with another paper towel, smoothing the paper towel down on the surface of the yogurt. Allow this to sit in the fridge overnight. You should end up with a pool of liquid in the bottom of the bowl beneath your strainer, and the yogurt should now be much thicker. It sometimes just falls right off of the paper towel into a bowl, but you might have to scrape it just a little. I like to eat Greek yogurt with a little bit of honey or maple syrup. Yum! I also think that it is one of the best things you can add to creamy salads to give it a rich texture without adding a lot of points.
Everyone enjoy your Saturday!! Mom, you wanted a sandwich idea, and I hope this will suffice. Now, I’m off to do errands!!