When I was a little girl my dad used to read me the Frances books. You know, Best Friends for Frances, A Baby Sister for Frances and my favorite (no surprise) Bread and Jam for Frances! Remember those? In Bread and Jam, finicky Frances finally takes a chicken salad sandwich for lunch and it sounded so good to me that I convinced my mom to send me to school with one too but unfortunately, unlike Frances, I hated it and came home completely starving, vowing never to eat the stuff again. Well, flash forward an enormous amount of years, and now I love the stuff...except for all the calories. But with this lightened up version, caloric guilt is not a factor. Yes, I and you of course, can enjoy chicken salad to our hearts' content, just like Frances!!
To me, chicken salad is such a summery food, whether you eat it on its own or in a sandwich. I mean, you can eat it all year long, but it's just so light and fresh and comforting in a warm weather sort of way--perfect for all the heat we're dealing with on the East Coast right now!
And this is easy to make too and very flexible--if you don't like tarragon or celery, simply leave them out or sub with another herb or maybe some chopped onion. In any case, you first poach the chicken in water that's enhanced by lemon slices and sprigs of fresh tarragon.
Once it's cooked, you cube it up and toss it with cut up celery and chopped chives and tarragon..
Then you toss it with a creamy but light mixture of non-fat Greek yogurt, light mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. And that's it folks! Chill it for an hour and you're good to go.
The chicken is tender and the sauce is creamy but light and subtly enhanced with the flavors of tarragon and chives. And the celery gives it that wonderful crunch! It's yummy in a pita pocket, on top of a salad, or just by forkfuls as you stand in front of the fridge--not that I would ever do that!! And if you've never read any of the Frances books by Russell Hoban, you must get them right away--like this tarragon chicken salad, they're classics for a reason!!
Tarragon Chicken Salad-Lightened Up
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes (only about 10 minutes active); Chill Time: At least 1 hour
1 lemon, cut in half
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts ( I like to use thin slice for this, but you can always pound thicker cutlets thinner)
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus 1 tablespoon chopped
3 tablespoons plain Greek non-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional to season
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1. Take one half of the lemon and cut into thin slices. Set other half aside. Add lemon slices, chicken, and 2 tarragon sprigs to a medium-sized pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to remove chicken and transfer to a plate. After a few minutes, place in the refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes. When cool enough, cut chicken into cubes. Set aside.
2. While chicken is cooking, juice the remaining lemon and place in a large bowl. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, salt and pepper and mix well. Stir in the cooled chicken, celery, chopped tarragon and chives and mix well again. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and serve.
3. Chicken salad can be made up to one day ahead and leftovers last for at least 3 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger. I played around with the proportions of the spices a little and used light mayo instead of regular.