There is a quaint European-style bistro near my home called “The Little Lion” that has quickly become one of my favorite lunch spots. The food and the ambiance are lovely, and their chicken curry salad is delightful. The flavors remind me of wonderful childhood memory – celebrating special occasions gathered around my parent’s legit fondue pot that they had purchased in 1969. Their fondue pot came with a simple cookbook called “Cooking Fondue Style“, written by George & Lorena Buschbaum, that is filled with a treasure of recipes. One of my favorites is a curry dipping sauce.
I gratefully inherited my parents fondue pot and the accompanying cookbook years ago when they were cleaning out their kitchen. After a recent lunch date at The Little Lion, I came home and pulled out this tried & true cookbook. I was able to recreate their chicken curry salad for a Monday night community dinner using the curry dipping sauce as the base for the chicken mixture. The results were very satisfying.
This recipe and a batch of Gruyere Rolls served 12 ladies.
CURRY CHICKEN SALAD
ingredients for sauce:
- 1/4 c onion, roughly chopped
- 3/4 c red apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 1 c milk, heated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
directions for sauce:
- Pulse onion & apple in a food processor until very fine and soft.
- Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat.
- Add onion/apple mixture and saute (for 3-5 minutes) until very soft and cooked through.
- Combine flour and curry, sprinkle over cooked onion/apple mixture.
- Blend well, cooking and stirring for 1 minute while mixture becomes very fragrant.
- Gradually add milk, blending with a whisk.
- Add salt and peanut butter, stirring constantly until sauce is smooth and thickened.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
ingredients for salad:
- 1 large rotisserie chicken, meat cut or torn into bite-sized chunks.
- Homemade curry sauce
- 2 red apples, cored and finely chopped
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 large container of spring mix salad greens (approx 11 oz)
- Homemade simple vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- Freshly ground salt & pepper
directions for salad:
- Gently fold chicken, sauce, apples, and raisins until just combined. (Over mixing will result in finely shredded chicken, and a salad mixture that is too mushy.)
- Combine salad greens with dressing and salt & pepper according to taste.
- For a sit-down dinner, serve plated food with the chicken salad neatly placed on top of dressed salad greens. Or for a potluck meal, serve the dressed salad and the chicken mixture in separate bowls so guest can prepare their own plates.
- If you are cooking for a crowd, this recipe doubles nicely.
Most vinaigrette recipes will work well for this dish. If you already have a recipe that you love, use that one. The only thing to remember is that this recipe calls for a simple dressing, using white balsamic or white wine with quality olive oil without a lot of other ingredients. Don’t get too fancy or the vinaigrette will over power the wonderful flavors of the curry.
And I think homemade salad dressing always tastes best when it’s combined by shaking it in a mason jar. This probably is not scientifically true, but it is a fun way to cook.
ingredients for salad dressing:
- 1 tablespoon Dijon (I prefer Grey Poupon.)
- 1/2 cup quality olive oil
- 1/4 cup white balsamic or white wine vinegar (I used a “Pear Chardonnay Vinegar” because I had some on hand after finding a bottle on the gourmet shelves of Home Goods. However, you do not need to go searching for a specialty ingredient for salad dressing to taste great.)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
directions for salad dressing:
- place all ingredients in a mason jar with a tightly fitted lid.
- shake until combined.
- dressing will keep for up to a week sitting in the jar on your counter, or longer in your refrigerator.
You can make an unlimited variety of fabulous salad dressings using quality flavored olive oils, combined with quality flavored vinegar. Experiment with what you have on hand or what you find when you are out and about. Don’t be afraid to be creative as long as you keep the number of ingredients in your dressing simple. The basic formula is Dijon + oil + vinegar + salt & pepper. That’s it. The only other ingredient I occasionally add is fresh garlic, of course.