Posted by: thehungryrunner | September 14, 2010

Farmers’ Market Chicken-Apple Salad: Relaxing to prepare, rejuvenating to eat!

Do you find yourself saying, “Oh I must get to the farmers’ market” far more often than you actually go?  I do.  But for those times I’m able to make good on that statement, I’m always so happy to have done so.  Between the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, stroll the booths at an unhurried pace, take in all the colors and fragrances and the hum of activity, I find myself appreciating the whole eating experience on so many more dimensions than when I just swing by the nearest grocery store or grab a preprepared salad on the fly.  When I come home with a treasure trove of fresh produce from the farmers’ market, I find it next to impossible to just throw together a quick meal or wash up an “instant” snack from that stash.  Instead, those foods seem to themselves plant the seeds of a relaxed, more slowly prepared dish, one to be savored just as much for the act of selecting and setting aside my ingredients, carefully slicing, chopping and tearing, lovingly arranging, and taking the time to feel full gratitude for what I’m about to eat.  I can’t say I fall into the same mindset when, say, I’m microwaving a bag of popcorn!

It’s with this in mind that I present my Farmers’ Market Chicken Salad, a recipe that’s been omnipresent in my summertime menu, both for the effect I describe above and for the “secret” ingredient that gives it its name.  Of course, you need not visit your local famers’ market in order to enjoy this recipe, but I do hope you will consider the approach I’ve described:  slowing down, taking your time, letting the meal unfold a few notches down from your normal pace.  The good news is, even at that rhythm, it’s an easy enough preparation that it won’t take that long.  Just long enough.

So with that in mind….

Farmers’ Market Chicken Apple Salad

  • 1 cup cooked chicken, cut into strips
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium apple
  • 3 cups lettuce (I like sweet butter lettuce, very mild and satisfyingly crunchy)
  • 1 Tablespoon fat-free cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1-2 “bonus” vegetables from the farmers’ market (lately it’s one of those small, colorful sweet bell peppers, and a carrot for me) — roughly 1/2 to 3/4 cup’s worth altogether
  • freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine the fat-free cream cheese, light mayonnaise, and dijon mustard; mix well with a fork or small wisk and set aside.  Chop or slice or the “bonus” farmers’ market vegetable(s) into bite-size pieces.  Place these vegetables, the celery and the chicken in a large mixing bowl.  Add the chicken and fat-free cream cheese/mayonnaise and mix well to distribute the dressing.  Slice the apple very thinly; fold into the chicken-vegetable mixture carefully to avoid breaking up the thin slices.  On a large plate (if preparing one serving) or two smaller plates (if preparing two servings), arrange lettuce pieces and top with the chicken salad mixture.  Sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper, prepare a nice place setting, and serve immediately.  Makes 1 large or 2 smaller servings.

I hope you enjoy both the meal and the preparation beforehand as much as I do!

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