I consider myself a bit of a chicken salad aficionado.
I’m compelled to order it if I see it on a menu.
Thanks to a friend’s referral, the best I think I’ve found in a restaurant is the Tarragon Chicken Salad at Bruegger’s Bagels. (It’s served on whole wheat bread, not a bagel, BTW). Here’s how they describe it: Diced chicken, almonds, red onions, cranberries, lemon tarragon mayo, tomato & lettuce on wheatberry bread.
Whenever I’m hosting a shower, or having friends over for lunch, you can expect chicken salad to make an appearance. Often, I’ll make a chicken pasta salad.
And this cashew chicken salad is my favorite.
The dressing is kind of sweet. The nuts are kind of salty. Tender chicken, soft noodles, crunchy nuts and crisp celery. Yum!
I will often use leftover chicken in this. But if I don’t have it, I prefer roasting chicken on the bone. My favorite is white meat. Just pick up a pack of chicken breasts on the bone and roast on a sheet pan in the oven for about a half hour at 450 degrees. Let cool and shred or chop.
I use bowtie pasta, but you can use any short cut pasta.
If you’re making this in advance, mix everything together except the nuts and dressing. You’ll want to dress it just before serving to avoid the pasta from soaking up all the dressing.
I often dress the salad up with whatever herbs I’ve got on hand. Basil is my favorite. I stack the leaves and roll them up, and then slice into thin strips.
Sometimes I’ll also add halved grapes for a sweet, juicy pop.
And, as with any recipe that calls for cooked chicken, leftover turkey works great too!
For lunch, I usually serve this with my carrot cake bread and fruit. But it’s magnificent in a big bowl all by itself the next day, too.
I know you’re going to love it as much as I do!
Here’s the recipe: