We have fallen in love with this chicken salad recipe, which makes me a little nervous because why, oh why can't we ever fall in love with carrot sticks? Or more to the point, why can't we ever fall in love with carrot sticks without a delicious homemade buttermilk ranch dip, the kind with two cloves of garlic and some fresh dill?
It just isn't in us.
Anyway, this isn't one of the best food pictures I've ever taken, mostly because of the bread. This chicken salad is much better served on croissants, ditto homemade, with or without the fresh dill. It's also better with homemade mayonnaise or Hellmann's scooped creamily from the jar and stirred in but I have made a concession to the health of our hearts and "light" mayonnaise can be used. If you must. And you should! But just between you, me and the enduring spirit of Julia Child, it's going to be better if nothing "light" in mayonnaise form cozies up to those trusting grapes and walnuts and chicken chunks.
This can also be served in a scoop on a bed of curly leaf lettuce with some pretty grapes and a little slice of soda bread or zucchini bread or some champagne crackers in a retro ladies-who-lunch presentation, or on a ripe tomato still warm from the garden. If you elect to eat the tomato slurping over your kitchen sink and shoveling in a bite of chicken salad out of the bowl you made it in, I will never tell. It is that good.
Here's a major thing with this salad, though: you have to dice all the chunky ingredients very finely, because if you don't, this salad just becomes impossible to eat -- you can't get a bite that includes everything at the same time if you have big hunks of chicken, big hunks of grape, big ol' honkin pieces of celery, whole walnuts, et cetera. It looks better if it's in the huge chunks, but it eats better cut up small.
CHICKEN SALAD WITH GRAPES AND WALNUTS
4 cups cooked chicken, diced very small
1 cup of LIGHT MAYONNAISE IF YOU REALLY FEEL YOU HAVE TO
4 T sour cream (okay, this can be "light" too...)
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half, or in thirds if they're large
6 green onions, including the green stems, diced very small
2 ribs celery, diced small
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 teaspoon salt
several dashes black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
Carefully stir all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and allow to chill for two or three hours. Serving size is approximately one-half cup.
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