August 15, 2014

Dried Cherry, Basil & Almond No-Mayo Chicken Salad

Two weekends ago, I went on vacation to visit my mom's side of the family in Michigan. My aunt has a cabin on Lake Michigan in a tiny little town called Onekama. Northern Michigan is known for its cherries and man, was I hooked! We had dinner at this lovely little restaurant, The Glenwood, and I had dried cherries in my salad with a cherry mustard vinaigrette... holy moly! I recommend vacationing up there if you ever get a chance. There are dozens of adorably quaint little towns and Michigan in the summer is absolutely beautiful.

Doesn't Lake Michigan look like an ocean?

One of the days my mom and I had lunch in another local town, Frankfort, at a bar and grill called Dinghy's. She ordered their Cherry Chicken and Almond Salad. Ah-maz-ing. I had to recreate it for myself! I ended up buying some local dried cherries up there, but unfortunately I ate the whole container before I got back to San Diego... oops!

Not to worry, though! Trader Joe's has dried cherries that are almost as good. ;-)

I highly recommend using cherries. You may have seen my avocado chicken salad, one of my most popular posts, or my poppy seed Greek yogurt chicken salad. But this is a great twist with the cherries and basil. Replacing the mayo with Greek yogurt turns a pretty unhealthy, high fat and cholesterol dish into a light, low fat, protein packed meal you can feel great about eating.

Cherry, Basil & Almond Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

1.5 lbs chicken breasts (about 3 medium breasts)
1-1.5 cups of non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4-1 cup dried cherries
3 stalks celery, sliced
4-5 large basil leaves, chopped
salt & pepper to taste (I use about 2 tsp salt and 1.5 fresh cracked pepper)

To keep your chicken really moist, boil in water for 30-45 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your chicken you may need to boil less or longer. I used thin sliced breasts, so I only boiled mine for 30 minutes. Be careful not to over cook so the chicken isn't chewy. Once it's done, use two forks or an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and shred chicken into bite size pieces, or dice chicken with a knife. Set aside to let it cool. I put it in the freezer for about 25 minutes because I was hungry. ;-)

When chicken is cooled, place in a large bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients. To chop basil, twist leaves together and slice with a sharp knife. Chop strips into smaller pieces. Use salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy this unique take on traditional chicken salad!


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