Tag Archives: summer salads

My new favorite chicken salad

My twist on ATK’s Classic Chicken Salad; it’s light & lemony & yummy

It’s from America’s Test Kitchen. Raise your hand if you’re surprised I fell in love with yet another ATK recipe. No? Nobody? Yeah, me either. It’s no secret I’m a rabid fan of America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and TV shows. I just love that they devote their lives to perfecting recipes so I don’t have to.

So let’s get on to the chicken salad. This Classic Chicken Salad is adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (revised edition).

1 rotisserie chicken from your grocer’s deli, plain
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 ribs celery, chopped fine
3/4 cup mayonnaise (we prefer Hellman’s)
2 scallions, minced
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
kosher salt & cracked black pepper to taste

Bone and chop your rotisserie chicken and toss it in a mixing bowl.

Note: I prefer the plain chicken seasoned only with salt & pepper. I say that because I once mistakenly grabbed a barbecue seasoned chicken and it was a horrible choice for chicken salad. Don’t be like me; read the label.

Add the canola oil, celery, mayonnaise, scallions, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, parsley and a good pinch of salt & pepper. Give it a stir and allow it to sit for a few minutes, then come back and taste it. I found I liked this recipe with a little more lemon juice, so I added another tablespoon. It gives it a bright citrus zing. Instead of adding more juice, you could also throw in some zested lemon peel, since you’re using a fresh lemon anyway. What I’m saying here is that the lemon is my favorite part of this chicken salad. It’s refreshing. And zingy. I also add a pretty heavy pinch of fresh cracked black pepper, because that’s my thing. I loved cracked black pepper.

Cover tightly and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes before serving. It helps the flavors come together, and everyone is happier when they’re all getting along. To serve, simply scoop onto your favorite chicken salad vehicle. In my case, it’s a toasted bagel. I can also vouch for the fact that it’s delicious on whole wheat toast, saltine crackers and celery sticks.

If you’re feeling frisky, you can top it with a fresh sliced tomato and a nice crispy piece of romaine. I also highly recommend spicy sweet pickles and your favorite chips on the side so you can get in all the food groups – sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy. Wait, that’s wrong. There are five food groups. I totally left off chocolate! {slaps forehead} Have mercy… can you ever forgive me?

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3-Step Simple Summer Salad


Pasta salad has to be among the most adaptable and forgiving side dishes of all time. You can pretty much throw anything into it and when you toss it with a simple vinaigrette, magic happens. Sunday afternoon when The Complete Package grilled chicken breasts for sandwiches, I threw together this simple but flavorful side in under 12 minutes. Here’s how I did it, in three easy steps.

Step 1: The Pasta
4 cups water
a good pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup pearl couscous or orzo pasta

In a saucepan, bring water & salt to a boil. Add the couscous and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, pour into a strainer and run under cold water to chill the pasta. Drain thoroughly and pour it into a bowl.

Step 2: The Add-Ins
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of Italian parsley, minced
2-3 fresh basil leaves, minced
1 scallion, minced
1 small Roma tomato, seeded & chopped
1/4 cup Italian Olive Salad, chopped

While the pasta is cooking, chop up all the add ins and set them aside.

Step 3: The Dressing
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings. Pour over the pasta and toss to coat. Taste just before serving and tweak the salt & pepper, as needed. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

Substitutions or Additions:
1. No olive salad? Chop some kalamata & green olives.
2. Feel free to toss in some shaved or grated parmesan.
3. Feeling frisky? Toss in some chopped salami.
4. I hate bell peppers but if you don’t, add some.
5. Red onion, chopped finely, instead of scallions.
6. Grated lemon peel – it makes everything better.
7. If you hate olives AND bell peppers, try cucumber instead.
8. If you add feta cheese instead of parmesan, I’ll kiss you. On the mouth.

Adaptable. Versatile. Delicious. Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite pasta salad? Feel free to shout it out in the comments. If you’re a blogger, attach a link so we can all see it. With temperatures already climbing into the 90’s in Houston, I need all the light but tasty pasta salad suggestions I can get.

Ready… set… salad!

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