Parisian chicken salad with apples and celery served on a bed of lettuce

Parisian Chicken Salad with celery, apples and mint on a bed of greenleaf lettuce.

Celery and apples are two ingredients I can eat any time. The crunch, the flavor, the freshness of a juicy bite of  either one of these lovelies works for me in any one of a hundred ways. I add them to all kinds of things, and most particularly love them raw and fresh in a great salad – which is where this classic Parisian salad comes in.

A standard for the filling in a French bakery chicken salad sandwich, the Parisian is a mix of very finely cut apples, celery and chicken in a dressing made of equal parts mayonnaise and yogurt and seasoned with a pinch of cumin and salt and pepper. It’s often served on a cross-cut slab of baguette or in a ciabatta roll, topped with paper thin slices of red onion, fresh lettuce and a chunky thick slab of tomato. You can also serve it straight up on a bed of fresh greens. No matter how you do it, it’s excellent, crunchy, fresh, sweet and tart in every mouthful.

Making it Sing

Take it to the next level with a nice bunch of fresh mint – either peppermint or spearmint will do. You’ll want one whole fresh packet from the produce department, or a nice bunch of whatever you have on hand in the herb garden. Remove the stems until you have a nice pile of leaves and mince them fine. Add and toss well with the salad ingredients before you add the dressing. Be sure to chill well so all the flavors have time to come together. Exquisite!

Now, About Those Apples

Sweet, tart and mint! This is the most refreshing salad ever, and it’s perfect for a warm fall afternoon when the apples ripened to perfection. Divide your apple selection between tart and sweet varieties by choosing from gala, honeycrisp, fuji or delicious and then adding in two of the mixed sweet and tart apple choices like a  cortland, jonathan, cameo or braeburn. I do not recommend using grannie smiths for this salad, but if you are really a big fan of tart, then it might be just what you want. Mix it up with three completely different flavored apples for maximum enjoyment!

This recipe really benefits from bone-in roasted chicken breasts that are cooked with skins and lots of good seasonings to make them super flavorful. Garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, onion or onion powder, olive oil, the more complex the seasoning and flavor of the chicken the better. This helps it to stand up to the strong flavors of the apples, celery and mint. It’s hard to get that same full chicken flavor with boneless chicken breasts, so plan to bake bone in chicken breasts, or a whole chicken and use the meat from the breasts for the salad.

Recipe:

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes plus baking time for chicken and chilling time for apples.

Ingredients:

3 organic apples, chilled
1 bunch organic celery
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 medium free range chicken breasts, bone in, roasted and chilled
1/2 – 3/4 cup plain organic yogurt
1/4 cup homemade mayonnaise*
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bunch fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste
(*If you do not have homemade mayonnaise, you can use the purple cap Vegenaise which is made with grade seed oil for a healthy store bought dressing that is also egg free for those allergic to eggs.)
Optional:
fresh greens: butterleaf, green or red leaf lettuce
a handful of whole mint leaves for garnish
For Sandwiches:
sandwich rolls
Very thinly sliced red onion
thickly sliced tomato

Directions:

Select three of your favorite varieties of apple, one apple from each variety and refrigerate the day before you plan to make the salad. The more diverse the flavors of the apples, the better.

Set aside two whole pre-roasted chicken breasts from a whole chicken or roast two bone in breasts on their own at least a few hours before you plan to make the salad, or the day before and refrigerate.

To make the salad:

Core and chop the apples into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces. They do not have to be exactly uniform, but no really big hunks. Place them in a large salad bowl and toss them with the lemon juice so they are thoroughly covered to keep them from browning.

Use the entire bunch of celery. Remove leaves and bruised or damaged stalks from the celery bunch. Split the stalks into thirds or quarters length-wise and chop fine into 1/4 inch pieces.

Add to the apples and toss again.
Remove the chicken from the bone and carefully make sure that all the bone is removed from the meat. Remove the skin, and cut the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes.

Add the chicken to the celery and apple and toss lightly with salad tongs or large spoons until well mixed.

Remove the stems from the mint. Set aside a small handful of leaves to use as garnish when you serve the salad. Mince the rest of the mint leaves until finely minced. There should be a good sized handful of minced leaves. Spread them over the salad mix and toss until the mint is completely mixed in throughout the salad.

Add the yogurt and mayonnaise and stir until well combined and all the salad is coated in the dressing. Then sprinkle the cumin over the top and mix well until it disappears. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste after the salad is chilled. Serve as a filling for sandwiches with thinly sliced red onion and thickly sliced tomato, or serve on a bed of greens garnished with a few mint leaves.