Picnic-Perfect Chicken Salad

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We do the picnic thing a lot around here.

It's a cheap way to jazz things up on the weekend - you feel like you're getting out and doing something special, when really you've just shoved whatever portable leftovers you can find into a sack and carted them off to someplace exotic, like the beach...or a park...or your backyard...

Add a couple of books and a deck of cards, and you've got a whole day full of fun - for free!

But sometimes, we go a little wild and actually prepare something special ahead of time (like when we opened our recent Year of Fun envelope directing us to go on a picnic).  Then we really get crazy and sneak some extra treats into the bag (park contraband like wine, camouflaged in a thermos!)

Our favorite food to bring along on such an outing?  This chicken salad.

It's made with homemade, egg-free mayo, so it's just perfect for hauling out into the hot Florida sun (no food poisoning for us!)  Sometimes we turn it into sandwiches (on this delicious bread, of course), but sometimes we just slather it on crackers to nibble while we read or watch Gv dig in the sand.

This isn't just your run-of-the-mill chicken salad, though.  It's a little odd, just like us, but we like to think of it as a fancy-pants dish, because it's got capers in it - and capers just make anything fancy, dontcha think?

(That's right.  I claimed something was fancy, then followed it up with a completely made-up word that any grammar teacher would cringe at.)

The three of us can easily polish off an entire batch of this stuff in just one outing.  Gv's not terribly fond of the red onion, but she is fond of spitting the onion chunks out onto the ground in lovely purple patterns!

What You Need

4 cups shredded or chunked-up chicken (cooked, of course!)

1/2 of a diced red onion (or 4 scallions, if you prefer a milder onion flavor)

1 1/2 teaspoons dill (or tarragon, because sometimes you're not in a pickle-y mood)

2 Tablespoons parsley (it makes you feel like you're getting some greens in there, right?)

1 cup mayonnaise (you could use pre-made, if you're just too freaked out about making your own, but I really hope you give this a try):

  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (this recipe isn't Dijon, but it's all we've ever used to make this dish)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2-3 Tablespoons capers

1/2 cup finely shredded red cabbage

2 teaspoons lemon juice (you might not need this, but you won't know until the end, so it's good to be prepared)

What You Do

1.  First, make your mayonnaise.  I know mayonnaise is supposed to involve this delicate process where you slowly add the fats in order for everything to get emulsified properly, but I figure if the point of it all is just to create something tasty to bind my chicken salad ingredients together, then I don't really care whether the end result is all whipped and pretty.

Plus, we all know I'm lazy, so why take ten minuets to do something that I can get done in two?

Anywho, just dump all the mayonnaise ingredients into something blendy (I usually opt for the Ninja) and mix for a good long while, or until the whole mess looks really cloudy.

Note:  This mixture will not really look like mayonnaise at all, but that's okay, because it's not entering a beauty contest and it will thicken up a bit when the coconut oil has a chance to cool down from all that blending.

2.  Dump all the chicken salad ingredients (except the 2 Tablespoons lemon juice) into a big bowl and give your mixing arm a good workout.  You'll start to feel better about that weirdo-mayo that I just talked you into making once you see everything come together like a normal spread and you'll hopefully stop calling me all those names I know you were muttering under your breath while you were blending.

3.  Taste the mixture and decide whether you need the lemon juice or not.  I have to say that nine times out of ten, I don't add it, but there have been a couple of instances where the stuff just needed something and each time, this extra lemon juice has done the trick.

4.  Show some restraint by eating some ridiculous cup-sized portion, or do like we do and devour the whole thing at once!

Do you picnic often?  What are your favorite foods to snack on, while you dine al fresco?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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  1. Yum! I LOVE chicken salad! Hope to pin this!

  2. Yum! I LOVE chicken salad! Hope to pin this!

  3. we love picnics! although with the bad weather they have had to be indoor ones :p this would be a great addition to our basket! I love a good chicken salad and this looks way better from scratch! Thanks so much for linking up to #YumTum again this week :)

  4. I love the healthy home made mayo recipe for your chicken salad! Yummy and worth making yourself over store bought in so many ways. Thanks for sharing this post on the #ThoughtfulSpot this week.

  5. I love chicken salad and this looks delicious. Thanks for linking up at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop.

  6. Thanks for linking up at the Bloggers Spotlight!