Chicken and Arugula Salad

Lunch

Don’t get used to this, my friends.  There’s not going to be a lot of salad action on this blog.  Unless of course it is preceded by the words “creamy” and “macaroni.”  I don’t hate salad, but I’m certainly not one of those liars people who claim to love it.  I eat it because I know I should, and because I know it’s good for me, and my Catholic guilt gets the better of me if I go too many days on a carb-only diet.

So, we hosted a family lunch over the weekend.  I love to host, and I love to cook for people, but I’m generally more of a dinner-at-8 kind of person which gives this little control freak the better part of 10 hours to get prepared.  Lunch is a different beast, because I am in no way willing (love you mom and dad!) to sacrifice sleep or Saturday morning laziness for a tasty lunch.  So it has to be something I can either mostly prep in advance, or that is super quick so that it looks and tastes good but hasn’t involved a ton of sweating and kitchen kerfuffle.  I also knew that we were going to be doing a lot of beer-drinking and carb-eating for the majority of the weekend so I opted for something on the lighter side for lunch.  Oh, and then served it with warm croissants and butter.

Good old chicken salad is a great go-to.  It’s a crowd pleaser, it’s easy, and you can add a few different ingredients, change up the dressing ever so slightly and boom, you’ve got yourself a brand new salad.  I went for a citrusy dressing this time around, and a good combo of sweet/salty/crunchy accompaniments.  I also marinated my chicken in advance in olive oil, orange juice and garlic (because I’m a try-hard) but I’m not sure it was all that necessary.  Do what you’ve got time and the inclination to do.

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Ingredients:
4 medium sized chicken breasts (allow about 3/4 of a breast per person), cooked, cooled and chopped roughly.

2 cups arugula

3/4 cup seedless grapes, halved.  I used Sable grapes – they’re really dark in colour and not too sweet.  Green would be great too, as long as they’re not too sour.  Test your grapes first, people.

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup crushed pecans

1/4 cup chopped chives

Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise (I use the half fat variety.  Full fat would work too.  Don’t even talk to me about fat-free…that’s not mayonnaise)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

juice of 1/4 of a lemon

1 tsp lemon zest

Salt & Pepper

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How to make it:

1) Mix up the dressing, as in: pour all the ingredients into a bowl or a measuring cup and whisk it up.  Taste it and season it with more of whatever you think it’s missing.  Set aside

2) Take your halved grapes, your crumbled cheese, your chopped chives, your pecans, and your chunked chicken and throw it in a bowl.

3) Cover in dressing and give it a toss until everything is combined evenly.

4) Set it in the fridge (or in my case, on the balcony) for about an hour and then pull it out 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve.

5) Lay your arugula (or really, whatever green doesn’t make you gag you prefer) on a flat serving plate or dish, and top with the chicken mixture.

7) Garnish with lemon wedges so it looks real professional-like.

8) Enjoy with your favourite buttery carb or on its own if you’re a saint.

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