18 February 2011

Mandy's Famous Rosemary Chicken Salad

You know what I hate? Mayonnaise.

When I was in eighth grade, I was in the school's spelling bee and almost lost because I didn't know how to spell mayonnaise. So, for one, mayonnaise almost ruined my childhood.  Fortunately, though, the other girl didn't know how to spell it, either, so mayonnaise didn't manage to ruin the bee for me.  I later won with the word nougat. Shoot yeah! (Also, maybe I ate a nougat bar--the Big Hunk--every day for lunch in the eighth grade?)

Sure, mayonnaise didn't ruin that day, but it has ruined many a sandwich in the years since my glorious spelling bee victory. Ugh! So gross! The thing is, even though I know what actually goes into mayo, I still have this mental block against it. And even though I'm a much less picky eater now than I used to be, and Matt insists that I actually do like mayonnaise deep down in the depths of my soul, I've been hard core against it. (Plus, do I really need to convince myself to like something that's only going to make me fatter?)

Anyway, because of my aversion to all things mayonnaise, it took me a really long time to eat chicken salad. I'd only eat the less-mayonnaisey ones, and even then I'd have to play mind games with myself to really enjoy them. But lately, I've been playing it fast and loose with mayonnaise. And just this week I made a huge first step: actually putting mayonnaise on a sandwich! Granted, it was a spicy mayo for a banh mi sandwich that Cassie gave me the recipe for (and that you should definitely make), but it was mayo nonetheless.

Look at me growing (in more ways than one)!

Anyway, all that to say that I've been getting over my mayophobia. So I've been making chicken salad lately, and it's hella good. It's not drowning in mayonnaise, and it's an easily adaptable recipe, and even Matt, hater* of chicken salad, has been going BANANAS! for it. I added rosemary to it because that's what my idol Cheryl from Back in the Day Bakery does.  But her cookbook isn't out yet (spring, 2012, baby!), so in the meantime I'll be making this one.  You should make it, too.  And eat it on some delicious bread, or on crackers. Mmmmm. . .

And then get online and order me a case of Big Hunks.**
Mandy's Famous Rosemary Chicken Salad


1 lb. or so boneless skinless chicken breasts (or whatever chicken you want as long as it's not from a can)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Cassie says you can only use Hellman's)
5 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup red grapes, halved
3/4 cup unsalted cashews (or whatever nut you want), chopped
crushed red pepper


Salt and pepper the chicken and cook it.  I did it in a cast-iron skillet, but you could bake it, too.  Chop everything else.  Mix it all together. 

Fancy, huh?

*Pronounced hate-uh if you want to be hip like me. As in, "don't be a hate-uh."
**Also, do not do a Google image search for "big hunk bar" from your workplace.

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