Summer Chicken Salad with Green Apple Vinaigrette

Is the summer really almost halfway over?  I’ve been so busy studying for this little exam that I’ve hardly had time to notice, let alone enjoy, the weather.  Though I did enjoy the pleasure of a particularly vicious mosquito attack … but that’s another story.  Ah, the joys of summer in the city!

apples and lemons

When it’s hot outside and life is hectic inside, the last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen.  Forget about hours, even 20 minutes seems like an eternity when it’s sticky and soupy outside.  Summer calls for nothing more than a few minutes of actual standing-in-front-of-the-stove kinda cooking.  Summer is the era of simple salads and simple slaws.  This chicken salad fits the bill perfectly.  No goopy mayo, this light, tart salad with crisp green apples is the perfect summer meal.

summer chicken salad

This was my first time poaching chicken and it was a resounding success.  Fast, easy and the resulting chicken breasts were beyond tender and moist.  This is a perfect method for quickly whipping up some chicken salad or for a shredded chicken filling.  If you are in a time crunch, or the thought of turning on a burner makes your head hurt, you can easily swap the poached chicken for a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

summer chicken salad

The dressing is another simple vinaigrette that is sweetened with agave nectar (a natural, low-glycemic sweetener).  The tart Granny Smith apples give this salad a nice tang without overpowering the dish.  A bit of a twist on a Waldorf salad, this is served atop a bed of leafy lettuce and drizzled with the apple vinaigrette.  Fast? Heck, yes.  Light and tasty?  Indeed.  Perfect for summer?  Of course.

summer chicken salad

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Summer Chicken Salad with Green Apple Vinaigrette

Ingredients-

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
2 1/2 tsp salt
6-8 peppercorns (or a few fresh grinds)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Granny Smith apple
1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 small head Boston or Bibb lettuce*
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted

Directions-

- To poach the chicken: Bring 2 inches of water (enough to completely cover the chicken breasts) with 2 teaspoons salt and peppercorns to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Once the water is boiling, carefully add the chicken and immediately reduce the heat to simmer. Partially cover the saucepan and poach until the chicken is cooked through, roughly 12 to 14 minutes. Let the chicken sit for a few minutes before chopping into bite-sized pieces or shredding with a fork.
- To make the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, agave nectar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl until the agave and salt have dissolved. Whisk in the finely diced shallot and, slowly while continuing to whisk, pour in the oil. Finally, whisk in grated apple.
- To assemble the salad: In a large bowl combine the chopped or shredded chicken, walnuts and chopped apples. Toss with half of the dressing. Arrange lettuce across one large platter or divide between individual serving plates. Spoon the chicken/walnut mixture on top of the lettuce. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

* Note: The whole leaf lettuce can be a bit intimidating. We found ourselves needing knives to cut it apart. I would suggest chopping the lettuce and tossing it all together if you are looking for a fork-friendly salad.

Inspired by Gourmet's Walnut Chicken Salad

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11 Responses to “Summer Chicken Salad with Green Apple Vinaigrette”

  1. 1
    Fallon — July 11, 2009 11:08 am

    That sounds delicious!

  2. 2
    Foodess — July 11, 2009 6:59 pm

    Looks delicious! Love the combination of flavours and textures.

  3. 3
    Kate @ Savour Fare — July 13, 2009 1:41 pm

    This is like a lighter variation on a Waldorf Salad! There’s something about chicken salad that just screams “Summer Luncheon” (not lunch, luncheon) doesn’t it?

  4. 4
    Kelsey — July 13, 2009 9:04 pm

    Hey, I tried making your recipe with my best friend. I have to say– delicious! The one thing was, the dressing was way too salty! Maybe you meant only 1/2 tsp salt?

    Kelsey

    • kate replied: — July 13th, 2009 9:22 pm

      Kelsey – If you note the directions, 2 teaspoons of the salt is put in the water to poach the chicken and the remaining 1/2 is used in the dressing. Don’t worry, I’ve definitely done the exact same thing before! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve skipped over one element of an instruction and ended up with a totally wrong result.

  5. 5
    Ashleigh — August 18, 2009 6:32 pm

    This looks great! I’m going to have to bookmark this and try it sometime

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  9. 6
    LSUWen — June 1, 2011 7:09 pm

    Where would I find the Agave Nectar? Is there a substitute if you can’t find it? Thanks!!

    • kate replied: — June 1st, 2011 9:54 pm

      LSUWen — Agave nectar has become increasingly popular and more readily available. Look for it in your local market near the honey. If you want to order it online, here is a link to a good brand that I use. If you can’t find agave nectar, you can certainly substitute with a light flavored honey.

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