This chicken salad sings with flavor from anise-like fresh tarragon and fennel, balanced by thyme, lemon, and a bit of scallion.
I do NOT like mayonnaise, plus it is loaded with calories (10 grams of fat in one tablespoon!), so I usually avoid chicken salads in delis and restaurants. I use Mediterranean-style nonfat plain yogurt such as Karoun, which I find in Middle Eastern or South Asian markets. It is very thick like Greek yogurt, and has only 70 calories in a half-cup.
You can make the peas ahead of time. I suppose you could cook frozen peas, but they won’t have the same crunch as parboiled fresh ones.
You can use a mix of light and dark meat, or just white meat, depending on what you want or have on hand. For the first batch I made, I used leftover roast chicken.
For the next batch, I poached boneless chicken breasts. I salted them and browned them in olive oil. I then poured boiling water over it, and added a splash of white wine and a squeeze of lemon, several sprigs of tarragon and thyme and a spoonful of salt, and covered the pan, and boiled it for 10 minutes. I then turned off the flame and let it sit for 10 minutes. You can make the chicken ahead of time.
When making a large quantity for a crowd, I shredded the chicken by pulsing in the food processor. Then I transferred it to a large bowl to stir in the yogurt and other ingredients.
This recipe is pretty versatile for substituting vegetables. I added 2 Tb chopped pecans since my South Texan husband loves pecans in almost anything.
1 cup shelled English peas
1 cup shredded cold chicken.
1 cup diced celery and/or jicama
2 Persian cucumbers, chopped. (If you can’t find those, use 3/4 cup regular cucumbers.)
1/4 cup diced fennel root
½ cup plain nonfat Mediterranean or Greek yogurt
1 tsp minced fresh tarragon
½ tsp minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. minced shallot or red onion
1 Tb. minced green onion (scallion) about 1 stalk.
¼ salt or to taste
3 grinds pepper
1 Tb lemon juice (juice of 1 small lemon or ½ large lemon) preferably Meyer lemon
Shell about 1 pound English peas to make 1 cup, then parboil them for 2 minutes. Immediately cool them in ice water. I pour them through a strainer, then place the strainer in a bowl of ice water.
- cooling peas in ice water
Dice chicken, cucumber and jicama, mix with cooled peas, and yogurt. Mince tarragon, thyme, shallot and green onion, add to chicken. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mix well.
I bought some pita bread when I picked up the yogurt, so I tucked my chicken salad into it.