A January Chicken Salad

Christmas may be over, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying holiday flavors in to the new year! Maybe like me, you bought dried cranberries and pistachios in December, to make scones, muffins or granola, and now the leftovers are still hanging out in your cupboard. Of course you could bake those up into a cookie or toss them into your morning oatmeal, but if your tastebuds are asking for something savory, this salad is the perfect recipe for putting them to good use. Chicken salad is always in season!

I gently cooked some boneless breasts and thighs in my stockpot and shredded them before putting them in the refrigerator. I intentionally cooked more than I needed for this salad, because shredded chicken is a gift to the home cook - you can do so many things with it. A rotisserie chicken from your local deli would work well too. I ran my knife through this a few times to break up any large chunks. Drop the chicken into a large bowl.

I'm using these pistachios that I purchased at Aldi's. They are super delicious. In fact, I realized as I worked on this post, that almost everything in this recipe came from Aldi's, so maybe it should be a sponsored post! Ok, back to our recipe, chop the pistachios into pieces, revealing the lovely green and red color of this nut and drop into the bowl with the chicken. Now, if you didn't have pistachios and didn't want to buy any, of course, you could use pecans, walnuts or almond slices in this salad. They would be good too.

Now add your dried cranberries and chopped flat leaf parsley to the ingredients in the bowl.

Add a half cup of your favorite mayonnaise, along with fresh lemon juice and poppy seeds. The addition of the seeds makes the salad look a little more special than an everyday chicken salad. They could be optional, if you don't have them. I usually have a little leftover from the many loaves of poppy seed bread I make to give away at Christmas.

Gently stir everything together and serve on a bed of lettuce or on some good bread. I'm thinking focaccia or a pita would be nice. This salad is delightful for lunch or dinner.

Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 T. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 t. poppy seeds

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix chicken, pistachios, cranberries and parsley.

Add mayonnaise and stir to coat. Add poppy seeds, and fresh

lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on salad greens or on good bread.

Thanks to lovelylittlekitchen for this recipe!

Here's a few helpful hints to think about when you're making this recipe.

* Since you're going to cook chicken, go ahead and cook extra. You will be glad you have that shredded chicken in the refrigerator ( or freezer) when you need to come up with a quick meal. Shredded chicken is good in soups and chilis, quesadillas, enchiladas and taco salads. I'm going to use some on a pesto chicken pizza tonight!

* Double the recipe! This salad will be good in the refrigerator for a few days, so make extra so you have plenty for lunches or maybe to share with a friend. I like to make it on Friday, so we have it to nibble on all weekend.

* You can cook the chicken in a crockpotY (if you're going to be out for a while) or on the stovetop. If you use a crockpot, don't overcook or your salad will be mushy.

* Keep extra pistachios in the refrigerator or freezer for longer use. This is how I store all my nuts.

* Did you know you can freeze fresh lemon juice in ice cube trays and pull out later for use in recipes? Don't waste any of that precious juice. You can also zest the lemon before juicing and freeze the zest.

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