Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Barbecue Chicken and Grape Salad

Earlier in June I had fun using grapes in a novel way, as the base of a salsa (see post for Grape and Cucumber Salsa).  Tonight, I'm doing the same, letting grapes take the place of apples in a variation on Waldorf salad.  The salad also gets a twist from the barbecue rub on the Gardein chicken.

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder*
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 Gardein Tuscan chicken breasts (without sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup halved seedless green grapes
  • 3/4 cup halved seedless red grapes
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion**
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped and toasted walnuts
1. Combine the onion powder, paprika, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl.  Sprinkle evenly over the Gardein chicken.

2. Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and saute for 2 minutes on each side.  Wrap the handle of the skillet with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven; bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a platter; refrigerate until chilled, then chop into bite-sized pieces.

3. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with the green grapes, red grapes, celery, red onion, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, and orange juice in a bowl.  Add the chopped chicken and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with the walnuts.

Note: you can quickly toast walnuts in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan almost constantly so the nuts don't burn.

*Don't substitute regular chili powder for the ancho chili powder here - the former is a blend of ground chiles, cumin, oregano, and other spices.  Ancho chili powder, on the other hand, is 100% ground ancho chile peppers - the ancho has mild heat, compared to other chiles, and will lend the perfect amount of spice to this dish.  Having trouble finding it?  Try Penzey's spices

**Ever find that there's too much bite to the raw red onion in your salads?  I know I do.  A trick is to rinse the onion after slicing it, then adding in with the rest of the ingredients - it will remove some of that bite.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 and 1/4 cups), Calories 266

Tasting Notes:
This salad was just about the perfect blend of ingredients.  Wonderfully creamy mayo dressing, tender vegan chicken with the exact right notes of spice, and a great contrast between the grapes and chicken.  Celery gave just the right crunch, and the walnuts practically infused the dish with a toasty scent and taste.   I wouldn't change a thing.


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