The Best (Healthy) Chicken Salad Ever

I know that the title might seem hyperbolic, but this is seriously the tastiest chicken salad I’ve ever had. Honestly, I don’t even really like chicken salad that much. Something about the texture of gooey mayo with chunks of whole chicken just doesn’t do it for me. However, I have found a magical solution to my texture problem – don’t use mayo.

0

I know what you are thinking. That’s crazy! Mayonnaise is what makes chicken salad stick together! It is the classic glue of chicken salad! But here is the rub with mayo. 1. It has a strange, sticky texture that doesn’t really lend itself gracefully to nice, delicate chicken salad 2. It is not very healthy.

I’m not saying chicken salad HAS to be healthy. But if you can make it more healthy, and more delicious, why not?

I scoured the internet for recipes for versions of chicken salad that didn’t use mayonnaise. Most use greek yogurt. But I wanted a punch of flavor in mine. Not just plan old yogurt. So, what is a great option instead? Tzatziki!

This is a light, refreshing, Greek flavor inspired chicken salad. It is what I always imagined chicken salad to be. It works really well.

The Best (Healthy) Chicken Salad Ever – A Delectable Endeavor original

1 lb chicken breast cooked and cubed

1 cup tzatziki

5 scallions, thinly sliced

1 red or yellow pepper cut into small, bite-sized pieces

1/2 cucumber cut into small, bite-sized pieces

2-3 oz crumbled feta (depending on how much you like feta)

squeeze of fresh lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Start by draining the tzatziki. You need to get rid of some of the water, or it will make your chicken salad watery and unappetizing. I do this by lining a sieve or strainer with cheesecloth (or paper towel will work too). Place the strainer over an empty bowl. Pour tzatziki into lined strainer and let sit in your refrigerator for a couple of hours.

After tzatziki is strained, take strained mixture and place into a large, clean bowl. Add cubed chicken, scallions, pepper, cucumber, and feta. Fold the mixture gently until well incorporated. Finish by folding in a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little salt and pepper to taste. I like to eat it with pita chips.

Baklava

Who doesn’t like a ooey-gooey dessert?  Recently, I was in a cold medicine haze and something popped in my head, “wouldn’t it be lovely to have some sweet, nutty, sticky baklava?”  Since that haze, I have been craving the Middle Eastern treat.  Lucky for me, baklava is surprisingly easy to make!

Baklava is the name given to a variety of sweet pastries made of nuts, phyllo dough and honey.  These ingredients can be combined in many different ways to make the pastry.  Some people say you shouldn’t use salted nuts, but I say go for it!  Every sweet dish needs a little salt to bring out the sweet anyway.

This is my own recipe:

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 cup walnuts

1 cup cashews

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugarBaklava

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 package of frozen phyllo dough

Approximately 1/3 cup of melted butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup orange blossom honey

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon zest

Chop nuts up in a food processor.  Mix nuts with granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix well to ensure it will spread evenly. Brush some melted butter on the bottom of an 8×8 pan.

Begin layering by placing one phyllo dough sheet on top of the butter.  Brush the phyllo with the melted butter.  Place another phyllo sheet on top of the other.  Brush with melted butter.  Continue to layer this way until there is at least 5 sheets layered on top of one another.  Then, spread the nut mixture on top and repeat.  Keep layering until the nut and sugar mixture is gone.  Top with 5 more layers of the phyllo dough.

When done, cut your baklava!  It is important to cut it BEFORE cooking.  Place into an oven heated to 350 degrees.  Cook for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until nut mixture is melting and dough is golden brown.

While the baklava is baking, make the syrup to cover it.  Begin by mixing sugar and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add honey, vanilla, and lemon zest and reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Once baklava is done, remove from oven and immediately pour syrup mixture over baklava.  Let cool and enjoy!