Lemon Chive Chicken Salad

How to gently poach chicken breasts in lemon water to yield moist, tender and flavorful meat for chicken salad. Then just toss in a light, healthy dressing of mayo, Greek yogurt plus lemon zest and juice plus a little chopped chive (or another fresh herb). The result? It's quick, it's simple, it's tasty, such an easy way to meal prep homemade chicken salad, especially in spring and summer for salad plates or impromptu picnic sandwiches. PS And anyone new to "poaching" chicken breasts, not to worry, poaching is a super-easy basic technique, literally as simple as boiling water.

Lemon Chive Chicken Salad ♥ KitchenParade.com, chicken breasts gently poached in lemon water then mixed with delicious low-cal mayo-yogurt sauce. Low Carb. Hight Protein. Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Chicken Salad Made from Scratch. Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Low Fat. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

All About Poaching ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

What Is "Poaching"? In the culinary world, "poaching" means to gently cook a food in a liquid until it's just done. Some times, like here, the liquid is seasoned or flavored. Some times, like here, the food also rests offheat for awhile, soaking up moisture and flavor.

You might be familiar with poached eggs or maybe you've ordered eggs Benedict at a restaurant for brunch. We love-love-love poached eggs, so good! Here's How to Poach a Perfect Egg, it's a technique worth mastering.

How Do You "Poach" Chicken Then? LOL, we're not stealing chickens from the henhouse like thieving poachers might! Instead, here we're gently cooking chicken breasts in seasoned simmering water and then letting them rest for a half hour. It's as simple as it sounds!

Why Poach Chicken Instead of Baking or Roasting or Grilling or ... ? Because poaching turns out especially moist, tender meat and the rest time turns out moist, tender and well-seasoned meat. That makes poaching an especially good technique for cooking chicken especially for chicken salad.

Is "Poaching" Different Than "Boiling"? Yes. Poaching uses a slow simmer for gentle cooking, that means slow plops of bubbles in the cooking liquid. Boiling uses hard, fast bubbles; it'll cook the chicken faster but the meat will turn out tough.

Lemon Chive Chicken Salad ♥ KitchenParade.com, chicken breasts gently poached in lemon water, then mixed into chicken salad, light and summery.

What's In Lemon Chive Chicken Salad? Maybe? All? Or Mostly? Pantry Ingredients

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Chicken for Simple, Basic Structure This recipe calls for chicken breasts, the white meat makes for an especially pretty chicken salad, especially when poached. (And if you're like me, you keep a few pounds of chicken breasts in the freezer at the ready ...) That said, it would be just fine to supplement or even substitute the breast meat with chicken thighs.

  • Mayo + Greek Yogurt for Light Creaminess Do you ever get a chicken salad sandwich out somewhere that's just dripping with nothing but mayo? Ugh. Here, I nix 100% mayonnaise for the chicken salad's dressing and instead use a mixture of mayo and Greek yogurt. Just a spoonful or two of unsweetened yogurt somehow "lightens" the dressing's texture and richness without turning out wan and bland.

  • Celery + Onion for Crunch A bit of vegetable, not too much, gives chicken salad a bit of crunch and oomph. Just be sure to dice both the celery and onion really fine.

  • Lemon + Chive for Brightness Lemon zest! Lemon juice! These really brighten up chicken salad in a way that's both familiar and unexpected. In contrast, a little fresh chopped chive adds an extra edge that's really appealing. No chive? Try another fresh herb, maybe basil or tarragon or dill. But chive is one of the easiest of all herbs to grow in pots during the summer, check out Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again.

  • A Pinch of Sugar Oh, sugar. We work so hard to avoid it, don't we? And yet a tiny pinch makes a difference here. Omit it if you like, but it does make a difference.

  • Salt + Pepper Salt and pepper, however, are important. Without salt, chicken salad will taste bland but exactly how much salt and pepper depends on your own taste. So taste the Dressing and decide what/if to add, then after stirring in the cooked chicken, taste again and decide again.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • What About Substituting Cooked Chicken? or Meat from a Rotisserie Chicken? Yes! Use about a pound (450g) of cooked chicken. Would canned chicken work? I do think so, though haven't tried it myself. What about chopping up a roast chicken or a rotisserie chicken? Yes, though the meat won't be as moist. For these substitutes, you might want to add a little more lemon zest (and maybe a little more lemon juice) to the Dressing. Give it a little taste, see what you think.

  • What About Using This Poached Chicken for a Different Chicken Salad recipe? Yes, absolutely. In fact, while I love the convenience of a rotisserie chicken for my signature Chicken Salad for Sandwiches, the backup plan is to poach chicken breasts myself using this recipe. No extra trips for a rotisserie chicken for impromptu chicken salad? That's a win!
  • Who Else Is Tempted By Kitchen Gadgets?

    Let's switch gears a moment to talk about microplanes.

    Every few weeks, a new kitchen tool catches my attention. Rarely however, does attention budge from just looking to buy now.

    I’ve learned the hard way, you see, to be cautious with both dollars and space, for over-hyped kitchen tools deliver as much utility as cure-all cough remedies.

    I once fell so hard for a middle-of-the-night infomercial that I bought two juicers, one for my parents who had planted citrus trees at their place in Florida. Both were soon relegated to the dust bin. Ooops ...

    But the microplane grating products that appeared awhile back do deliver on their promise. In just seconds, a microplane creates piles of weightless lemon zest and grated Parmesan. Others rave about grating nutmeg, coconut, onion, ginger and chocolate. (See? No promises of world peace, just good grating!)

    Microplanes are quite inexpensive, so make good gifts for foodie-type family and friends.

    Do You Love Your Microplane? Microplanes? I Do!

    Use a microplane for light, lovely lemon zest.


    • Little known fact: Original versions of the Microplane were rasps used for woodworking!
    • These days, there are microplanes (affiliate link) for every grating job and task, soooo many size and shape choices anymore!
    • I have two, a fine grater for lemon and lime zest (like the one pictured) and a much appreciated medium ribbom grater for Parmesan, chocolate shavings and the like.
    • About Product Links My Disclosure Promise

    What Makes This Recipe Special

    • It has bright, lemony flavor that's especially suited for spring and summer
    • It's easy to make ahead, this is a meal prep favorite!
    • It's so adaptable, whether for serving on a salad plate, in croissant sandwiches, wrapped in lettuce leaves, even on crackers for an appetizer
    • It tastes light and fresh, not heavy with mayo
    • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!

    Bookmark! PIN! Share!

    How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for Lemon Chive Chicken Salad hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

    Lemon Chive Chicken Salad ♥ KitchenParade.com, chicken breasts gently poached in lemon water, then mixed into chicken salad, light and summery.


    Hands-on time: 25 minutes (15 to start, 10 to finish)
    Time to table: 1-1/4 hours
    Makes 4 cups
    • Water to just cover the chicken, about 3 cups
    • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
    • 1 tablespoon table salt
    • 1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons plain non-fat yogurt
    • 1 rib celery, finely diced
    • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
    • Zest and juice (about 2 tablespoons) from a lemon
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chive
    • Pinch of sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    POACH THE CHICKEN In a large skillet with a cover, bring the water, lemon juice and salt to a boil over medium high. Add the chicken and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and poach the chicken breasts at a bare simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn the breasts over and poach for another 5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the heat and cool in the poaching liquid, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Drain off the poaching liquid. With a sharp knife, dice the chicken, larger pieces work well for loose salad plates, smaller pieces for tight scoops.

    OPTIONAL FOOD PROCESSOR For sandwiches, I haul out the food processor because chicken salad with a finer texture is easier to spread, holds together better. Cut the chicken in chunks and then process in the food processor, just a few pulses, you don't want to turn the chicken to mush. I'll do the celery and onion in the food processor too, but separate from the chicken so not to over-process.

    DRESSING While the chicken cooks, stir together the Dressing ingredients and chill until the chicken is cooled. Stir in the cooked and cooled chicken. Taste, season to taste with salt and pepper.

    SERVE right away or refrigerate for 24 hours before serving, giving the flavors extra time to meld.

    ALANNA's TIPS The more flavorful and often less-expensive chicken thighs work too, just remove the skins and poach, flesh-down first. Delicious! The lemon juice is what makes this chicken salad stand out so don’t skip it. To extract the most juice from lemons, put them in the microwave for 30 seconds, then roll on the counter before cutting, pressing hard with your palm to break down the interior structure. The difference in yield is amazing! Ensure the chicken is fully cooked after poaching by slicing into the thickest part of one breast. If the juice runs clear, it is cooked. In a hurry? Use the meat from a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket! White onions have a much stronger onion-y flavor and odor, so if using a white onion, I'd recommend using about 1/4 an onion. No fresh chive? No problem, just substitute another fresh herb. What's your favorite mayonnaise? For many years, we were a Hellman's household. Now, oh my, Duke's mayonnaise is our 100% total favorite. You might make the switch too!
    NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 148 Calories; 5g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 49mg Cholesterol; 168mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 20g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 2 & myWW green 3 & blue 2 & purple 2 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 6 tablespoons This recipe is "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat and portion size and increases in no- and low-calorie flavorings and vegetables.

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    Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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