This is chicken salad for the mayonnaise-hating crowd. Even if you happen to think mayonnaise is perfectly delightful, this is a nice alternative. We discovered a recipe for it last summer (indeed, for a mayonnaise hater) and finally got down to the business of creating our own version. It's got crunch, color, and a tangy dijon vinaigrette. Plus, it goes really well with some slices of bacon.
We like to roast bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and then shred the meat. It's easy, and the skin keeps the meat moist and flavorful. But if you've got some leftover meat from a roast chicken, this is a great way to use it up.
And, of course, no one says you have to make this into sandwiches. Serve it alone or over some lettuce if you'd like.
Italian Chicken Salad
makes enough for six sandwiches
3 medium (or 2 large) bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion (about a quarter of a medium onion)
1/2 cup chopped celery (2 medium stalks)
1/2 cup thinly sliced roasted red pepper
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
handful of chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
12 slices bacon, cooked
12 slices hearty Italian or peasant bread
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub some olive oil over the chicken breasts and season them with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, depending on how thick the breasts are. The skin does not need to brown; you just want the meat to cook through. Let cool slightly, then peel away the skin and shred the meat. You should have about 3 1/2 to 4 cups. Drizzle the chicken with a bit of the juices from the pan, just to keep it moist.
Make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stream in the olive oil, whisking vigorously, until combined.
Combine the onion, celery, red pepper, almonds, parsley, and shredded chicken in a large bowl. Pour in the vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Make the sandwiches, putting two slices of bacon on each, topped with one-sixth of the chicken salad.
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)