Try this flavorful Gluten Free Apple Cherry Chicken Salad for your an appetizer, light lunch, or quick meal. Apples, celery, and cashews give crunch and texture while dried cherries add a bit of tang.
Who loves easy meals?!
Who loves make ahead meals?!
Who loves using up leftovers?!
SLAP YOUR FACE DOUBLE DUTCH DUH WITH A BIG FAT CHERRY ON TOP!!!!!!
Are you awake now? With all that yelling and screaming?
But really, is there anything much better when it comes to culinary pursuits than easy, efficient, and affordable? I think not.
There are a few items I cook in bulk because I can always utilize them later; two of those being baked potatoes (for soups, potato salads, and hashes) and chicken (for pasta, casseroles, shredded BBQ sandwiches, and salads).
It is so convenient to be able to chop, dice, or shred these leftovers and transform them into something new and glorious and oh so EASY the next day! And usually I’m always looking for something quick and easy on Sundays.
I’ll tell you one thing, as much as going to church is supposed to uplift your spirit and turn you into a better person, my kids often end church acting like little demons. They are tired and starving which equates to NOT HAPPY! Ben actually fits into this same category most Sabbath days as well.
To avoid full on tantrums and meltdowns upon returning home from church at noon, I’ve become accustomed to having quick meals ready to go for lunch. One of my favorites to prepare is this classic Gluten Free Apple Cherry Chicken Salad.
Basically you make it the night before with chopped up leftover chicken (or canned if you’re in a bind) and it’s full of flavor and ready to go the next day. I just whip it out of the fridge, toss in some chopped up cashews, and serve it with crackers (we like Food Should Taste Good brand), in sandwiches, or on top of some greens for a fresh salad option.
My favorite chicken salads, whether homemade or store bought, always include either apples or grapes. I love a little fruity sweetness in my chicken salads. And that added crunch just gives it such a wonderful texture. Sad thing is, though, grapes have been lacking in the flavor/texture department lately. Have you guys noticed that issue with your supermarket grapes this season??? Such a bummer.
Anyway, you can pretty much always find decent apples, so I opted for those. Plus I added some celery for a little extra crunch without adding too much sweetness to the salad. And just to ramp up the fusion of flavors, I tossed in some dried tart Montgomery cherries. Dried cherries are my FAVOR-ITE! I pretty much toss them in anything from cereal, to trail mixes, to salads, to this. YUM!
This chicken salad is not only quick and easy, but it is slightly healthier than other traditional versions. Instead of using solely mayo for the dressing, I used a majority of plain nonfat Greek yogurt. It yields a chicken salad just as creamy and just as tasty as it’s full fat counterpart.
Adding dried sage is another one of my favorite parts of this salad. Sage is chicken’s best friend. Okay, pretty much any flavor is chicken’s best friend. Poultry is basically a blank canvas for any kind of flavor, but I really do love the earthiness of sage in conjunction with the lean white meat chicken breast.
Now my suggestion with this salad is to hold off on adding the nuts until the end. I don’t like my nuts soggy (Oh my gosh! Okay, for some reason that just sounds wrong. Sorry guys.), so I prefer to toss them in right before serving while they’re still nice and crunchy. If you aren’t a cashew fan or don’t have them lying around the house, you can always sub in pecans, almonds, or walnuts. Any of those would be great options.
Okay, side note. Speaking of the little mistake in wording I just made, I just got off the phone with the Department of Education here in Hawaii and said the most embarrassing thing. This lady has called me three times and left messages in regards to a question I had last week. I kept forgetting to get back to her, but I really appreciated her repeated efforts in reaching out to me.
So this is what I said:
“Thank you so much for being on top of me!“
And this is what I meant to say:
“Thank you so much for being on top of things!”
And this is how I felt:
Red faced and EMBARRASSED.
Whatever. I’ve always had issues with saying really stupid things when I am trying to sound polite and educated. I should just give up.
Now if we want to mosey back on over to this classic chicken salad, I would also tell you that it gets better and better and better as it sits. You’ll want it to sit for at least 4-6 hours to chill and for all those flavors to distribute. But, if you want a complete cohesiveness of flavors to burst in your mouth with each bite, LET IT SIT! I suggest making it a day in advance.
This chicken salad really is perfect for a simple appetizer, a light lunch, a salad topper, or alongside some whole grain crackers. Eat up with little work and less guilt!
What do you like to mix into your chicken salad?
- 2 cups precooked diced or shredded chicken
- 1 medium apple, diced (I used gala)
- 1½ stalks celery, diced
- ½ cup chopped dried cherries
- ½ cup coarsely chopped cashews
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayo
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- Shred or chop chicken and set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine. yogurt, mayo, salt, pepper, ground mustard, sage, honey, garlic, onion, and lime juice. Mix until smooth.
- Dice apples, celery, and dried cherries. Add chicken and diced ingredients to dressing mixture. Stir until evenly incorporated.
- Chill mixture for 4-6 hours or overnight. Chop cashews and stir into mixture right before serving.
- Serve in sandwiches, with crackers, on top of salad, etc. Keep leftovers in fridge for up to 4 days.