Spiced Tarragon Chicken Salad with Cranberries

At one point, I had lived in this phase where I would have Arby’s Chicken Salad Sandwich for lunch almost every day. It was delicious, no doubt. The flavor from the toasty pecans, crisp tart apples, and burst of sweetness from the red grapes all mixed in with chicken made a very satisfying meal. But truth be told, there was so much mayonnaise in there that I felt like taking a nap after eating it—my stomach was over worked breaking down all fat. I’m not one of those people that says "no" to fat. Fat is good. You need fat to feel satisfied. However, it’s important to eat the right fats and reasonable amounts of it because it is very easy to go overboard.

Arby’s Chicken Salad Sandwich has about 870 calories per serving, 47 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 1380 milligrams of sodium, and 33 grams of sugar. It’s safe to say this is a high calorie and high sodium sandwich. This hasn’t stopped me from eating it, I’ll often have half of the sandwich, but then I’m left hungry. So then what was the point of eating only half of it when I wasn't happy doing so? I decided to create my own version of a chicken salad that is much healthier. I’m proud that my mindless repetitive activity of roaming around in the kitchen and throwing ingredients into a steel mixing bowl produced this chicken salad recipe. Although it may not be the first of its kind, because I know some of the ingredients have been used in a chicken salad before, it is quite tasty. And I don’t claim to be a chef, but if you like chicken salads, and you are looking for a healthier recipe; I think I can help you out.

Tarragon Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries

Tarragon is such a fantastic herb. It has such a unique aroma. My favorite part of this recipe is just chopping it up. It has this delicate scent, sort of a licorice and anise like fragrance that I find therapeutic and a bit invigorating as it wafts through the air. Whatever you do, don’t leave this out of the recipe. It truly adds that “pop” of flavor. It’s easier to find these days, and I love it so much that I decided to grow it . It’s flourishing in a small clay pot this very moment. For this recipe, I threw in the addition of traditional Indian spices, weird I know, but the earthiness of cumin and the warmth from coriander is very faint yet it adds that background flavor that I think is essential. These spices are often used in raita, an Indian yogurt dip, I thought it would be neat to add it to this chicken salad. Pecans are buttery, so I decided to use walnuts because of the dry toasty note that it adds to the salad. The oils from the walnuts is all you need to enhance their flavor, toast them in a dry skillet for a few minutes before adding them in. Instead of grapes, I thought the addition of dried tart fruit would be nice. If you’re looking for an extra tart flavor, skip the dried cranberries and substitute with dried cherries. The cranberries are a bit sweeter. On a side note, chicken thighs are more moist and tender than the breast. Yes chicken thighs are higher in fat, but no worries--the only problem I have is with the skin. If you're vegan, leave out the chicken and try plain soy yogurt instead. If you're a vegetarian leave the chicken out completely. But ultimately you decide how you want to enjoy this.

1 cup cooked chicken thigh or breast, skinless, boneless, cubed into 1 inch or smaller pieces

1 ½ cup low fat greek yogurt

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

1 ½ tablespoon tarragon, chopped

1 ½ tablespoon parsley, chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

¼ cup dried cranberries or cherries

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced (try grating it in)

¼ tsp coriander

¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp Pepper


Place two coffee filters in a sieve, and hang this sieve over a bowl. A cereal bowl works fine. Add the low fat yogurt into the lined sieve. The idea is to drain the liquid and separate the protein and whey in the yogurt. Basically, you're making Greek yogurt. For a fraction of the cost. If you're lazy, like most people, go ahead and buy it. If you're broke, this is your thing to do.

Leave this in the refrigerator to drain for at least 3 or 4 hours. Even better if left overnight. The longer it drains the thicker it becomes, over night you have a "yogurt cheese" consistency.

When the yogurt is ready, add the salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic. Taste to check seasoning. Adjust if needed.

My advice is to start with one clove of garlic--for some, two cloves can be pretty potent.

Add the toasted walnuts, tarragon, and parsley. Stir.

Tumble in the chicken, celery, and cranberries.

Serve with crusty buttered whole grain bread, or form into a sandwich. You can even leave out the chicken and use it as a dip. There are no rules.

Enjoy my friends!