Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps


Next up from my book club menu...  Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps.  I've made these lettuce wraps a lot over the past year, tweaking the recipe here and there, trying to make it better every time, and I'm pretty sure this is it.  I know everyone has their own idea of what makes a perfect chicken salad, and this is mine:  juicy chicken that's shredded instead of diced, the crunch of celery, the sweetness of a little fruit, and just enough dressing to make it moist and flavorful but not too heavy.  I used to add sliced grapes and toasted pecans to the salad as well, which you can certainly do, but I prefer this simpler version better.

I do add a little mayo to mine, but not much, so this is a very light and healthy salad;  you could of course leave the mayo out and just use all yogurt instead.  When I'm in a hurry, I'll use a pre-cooked roast chicken from the grocery store, but it's really so much better if you cook your own chicken so that you can control the seasoning.
Using some beautiful Bibb lettuce to wrap up your chicken salad not only makes a dramatic presentation, but lightens up the recipe even further instead of using tortillas or bread, and makes a wonderfully light summer dinner.



Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
  • 3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup dried berries (I used an "antioxidant blend" of dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries and plums)
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 heads of Bibb lettuce
Cook the chicken.  Butterfly each breast; season with salt, pepper and paprika.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the chicken on each side until the outside is browned and the chicken is cooked through.  Shred with two forks while the chicken is warm, then let it cool in the refrigerator for an hour, or overnight.

In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, onion, dried berries, lemon juice and lemon zest, salt and pepper.

In a small separate bowl, whisk together the mustard, mayo and yogurt until smooth.  Add to the chicken mixture and toss until coated;  just add enough of the dressing to your own liking--I only used about 2/3 of the dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.  Lastly, stir in the mandarin oranges.

Tear off the outer leaves of the Bibb lettuce to use for the wraps;  the inner leaves are smaller, so you can reserve those for another use. Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat dry with a paper towel.  To serve, spoon the salad into the lettuce leaves and wrap up like a taco.