The other night Matt was flying back from the Bay Area right around dinner time & I had to work at the library until right before picking him up. I had a feeling he wouldn't want to go out for dinner after lots of meals out for the past couple of days. I decided the best thing to do was have something that was ready to eat when we got home that was fresh & light. Chicken salad seemed like a perfect solution, I could make it before I went to the library & let it chill until we got home.
We make lots of variations of chicken salad based on what's in the refrigerator; leftover rice & beans - Mexican chicken salad, leftover chile rub - southwestern chicken salad, leftover grilled vegetables - vegetable chicken salad. It's the type of dish that can be a spring board for many flavors. I wanted to use one of the fennel bulbs we got from our CSA so I went for a Chicken & Fennel Salad this time. I was just going to wing it but I found what sounded like a great recipe from Gourmet June 2006 on Epicurious. The only issue with the recipe is that it was huge, it used 3 whole chickens! So here I give it to you sized down to make 4 sandwiches.
Chicken and Fennel Salad
3 - 4 c cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (I didn't have any cooked chicken around so I just poached two breasts)
5 T mayonnaise
2 T plain yogurt
zest from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 t fennel seeds, toasted & crushed
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
1 fennel bulb, stems discarded & chopped
Mix everything but the basil together. Cover & chill until ready to serve. Before serving mix in the fresh basil.
Makes 4 servings.
We served this as sandwiches on homemade rolls & ate the leftovers inside a tortilla wrap the next day. It would also be very goo just serves on salad greens. The lemon really brighten this recipe & I've upped it compared to the original. The fennel provides a nice crunch & a slight licorice flavor but is not overpowering at all, though the flavor was slightly more intense the second day.