With the cold weather hitting hard this week (and much longer if you live in a colder climate), I am dreaming of summer. We got a taste of hot weather last week in Texas, and now we have cold weather advisories. What even? Last week, during the warmer days, I decided to pretend that winter is over, and make myself a chicken salad that would make me feel like summer. Is chicken salad exclusive to summer? No, but all those bright colors do remind me of warmer days. And when I think of ranch, I picture those commercials with the kids at the festivals eating their vegetables … do you know what I’m talking about? Let’s just move on from here …
Sooo this is one of those recipes where I’m using grilled chicken breast, but the result is actually filling AND satisfying. Say whaaaat? Grilled chicken breast usually just frustrates the heck out of me. You take the time to get it cooked all the way through, because you can’t just leave it red/pink in the middle like beef, and it comes out pretty, well, boring. And then you eat the thing, and you’re hungry 8 minutes later.
But in all seriousness, I generally cook with whole chickens when I make chicken. The flavor of a roasted chicken is leaps and bounds beyond that of any one piece, and it also presents really beautifully. It’ll also save some money and leave a good amount of leftovers for the next few days. That being said, if you want to substitute a pound of leftover shredded chicken for the grilled chicken breast, by all means do so. Either way you’ll get a satisfying meal.
But, hey, this post is about the chicken breasts. If you’re going to eat grilled chicken breast, you’ll want to have a great sauce to go with it. The sauce will add flavor, moisture and make the meal much more satiating. That’s where the ranch comes into this recipe.
Homemade ranch (don’t be intimidated- it’s super easy!) starts with homemade mayonnaise. To it, you only need to add a few spices and herbs to get a creamy ranch sauce. And it’s probably one of the easiest, but most delicious things you can have in your fridge on a daily basis. If you have picky eaters in your house, just toss on the ranch. I think they’ll gladly eat their vegetables.
Adding the homemade ranch to the chicken breast makes this salad amazingly addicting. You get the tang from the lemon juice, the creamy mayo, the sweetness of the tomato and apple, and the crunch of the different vegetables all in one, perfect bite. I could (and have) eat ranch chicken salad for lunch for days!
- 1 Batch of Avocado Oil Mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons lemon Juice
- 2 Teaspoons dried dill
- ¼ Teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Pound chicken breast (2 breasts)
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced
- ½ Cup peeled and diced apple (I used a braeburn apple)
- 1 Tablespoon red onion, finely diced
- 6 baby carrots, thinly sliced
- ½ Cup homemade ranch dressing
- Heat a grill pan over medium-low heat. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper, and place on the pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center. Grill the sides of the chicken breast as needed during the cooking process to get an even cooking. Set the chicken aside on a plate to rest and cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge.
- While the chicken cooks, prepare the ranch. Make the mayonnaise per its instructions. Transfer the mayo to a bowl or wide mouth jar, and stir in the lemon juice, dill and garlic powder. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- You can also prepare all of the vegetables at this time and combine them into a medium sized bowl.
- When your chicken has cooled, dice it and toss it into the bowl with the other vegetables. Make sure it is completely cooked (if not chill in the fridge for 10-15 more minutes).
- Once completely cooked, stir in the ranch dressing until well combined.
- Serve on top of salad, in a green pepper boat or straight from the bowl.
Or, sub chicken breast for any leftover shredded or diced chicken.