Recipe: Tree-Hugger’s Chicken Salad

Recipe: Tree-Hugger’s Chicken Salad

  • posted on: July 19, 2020
  • posted by: Kari Fetrow
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HAPPY SUMMER! The sun is shining, the weather is great and it’s time for recipes that don’t require an oven! Kari here with one of my absolute favorite recipes in the world and it’s all thanks to Asako Sullivan the former head chef of 21 Acres.

I recall I was planning the deli menu and I asked her for a chicken salad recipe. She said I will make you a spinach and hazelnut chicken salad, and I looked at her like she was nuts. But she was insistent and said, “Trust me it’s really good!” I knew then that I had to give it a go, and let me tell you, this happened almost 2 years ago and I still can’t get that chicken salad out of my head — it was crunchy, toasty, earthy perfection. Below is my best attempt at recreating her spinach and hazelnut chicken salad, and if you ever take my culinary advice please take this piece right here: everything, and I mean everything, is better when you make a homemade mayo, see my recipe here. 

Tree-Hugger’s Chicken Salad
Adapted from Asako Sullivan’s Spinach & Hazelnut Chicken Salad
serves 4

2 large chicken breasts, cooked in your favorite way & diced or shredded (I made mine in the IP)
1 bunch spinach, washed, stemmed, & rough chopped
1 cup hazelnuts, crushed & toasted
1 yellow shallot, diced, rinsed, & dried
1 celery stalk, diced 
3/4 cup mayo, may need more 
Salt + Pepper

Start by cooking your chicken breasts, you can roast them, boil them, or cook them in your instant pot like I did. IP directions: place the chicken breasts in add 1 cup of water and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes, natural or quick release. Let the chicken cool to at least room temperature before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.

While the chicken is cooking, toast the hazelnuts. If you happen to buy the whole hazelnuts in the market and don’t know how to crush them I have a great method for you! Place them in a paper bag grab a skillet or sauce pan and start pounding it on the counter, this will give you all sizes of hazelnut pieces, perfect for this recipe. Now toast them either in a skillet or in the oven. I like mine pretty dark and think it works well for this recipe. Let the nuts cool to room temp before mixing with all the other ingredients. 

While you are wasting away waiting for the chicken and nuts to cool, dice up the shallot. Rinse it under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. You may be asking yourself, “why would I do such a thing?” well I’m here to tell you unless you want the chicken salad to be overwhelmingly onion-y this step is absolutely necessary. Rinsing the shallot will make it mild by washing away those pesky pungent sulfur compounds. 

Now to the easy and less verbose part of this recipe. Simply mix all the ingredients together and serve on some nice bread. I served mine on some pretzel rolls and along the fruit salad I grew up with, it was perfect!