Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2-14 Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans - Gluten-free

I sat and looked at the lunch menu.It was filled with cleverly named pasta dishes, layered sandwiches with specialty breads and battered and breaded meat and fish.  What I wanted was a modestly-priced, gluten-free meal. The gluten-free aspect eliminated most of the menu and I moved on to the salads. They all came with a side of bread, but I hoped the salad I selected would be generously proportioned and enough to fill me up.

My friends and I talked about our lives until the waitress arrived with a very heavy tray of food. My choice of salad was meal-sized, but it lacked the mouth-watering appeal of lasagna or a Ruben sandwich. Still, because of digestive issues, gluten-free was what I had to have.

Half-heartedly, I tasted what I thought would be the usual flavors of restaurant-style, chicken salad.

Wow, was I wrong! My salad was heavenly and I fairly inhaled the whole plateful of food; it was out-of-this-world delicious!

My Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans recipe is a close duplicate of the memorable luncheon salad. Happy eating!

Harbor Chicken Salad with Pecans


1 can chicken, white meat
1-2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2-3 T dried cranberries (raisins may be substituted)
2-3 T toasted, chopped pecans (may be toasted in the microwave)
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
1-2 T carrot slivers

Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
1 can mandarin oranges (Clementines may be substituted)
Candied-cinnamon pecans (purchased or recipe below)
Baby lettuce salad blend
Apple, thinly sliced

Fruit-based dressing (optional) - cherry/poppyseed pictured.

Drain chicken and shred meat to a fine consistency. Add finely-chopped celery, lemon juice and dried cranberries; blend with enough mayonnaise to make a creamy mixture that holds together. Gently fold in carrot slivers. Taste and adjust. (This mixture may be made ahead and refrigerated at this point).

Add chopped, toasted pecans and mix gently. Arrange salad greens on a serving plate and place a dollop or two of chicken mixture on top. Garnish side of plate with mandarin oranges and apple slices. Sprinkle top of chicken salad mixture with sweetened pecans just prior to serving. Serve dressing on the side if desired

Candied Pecans


¼ C pecans
2 T sugar
2 T water

Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add pecans and stir to coat; sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. When sugar mixture comes to a boil, turn down heat to low and simmer 6-7 minutes until the pecans are evenly coated. (There should be no  syrup in the bottom of the pot and pecans will look dry).


Remove coated pecans to cool in a single layer on a piece of parchment or wax paper.

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