Hello Spring! Tree branches are bursting with bright green leaves. Warm, moist ground gives way to bulbs that spent the winter resting deep below, as they push toward the sun, transforming into yellow daffodils, pink tulips, violet hyacinths, and white jonquils. Warm, sunny days have arrived and there is no better time than now for celebrating mom with Mother’s Day Brunch, hosting a luncheon for friends, or kicking off the season of love with a Spring Bridal Shower.
And here’s a perfect main course for any spring dining event! This is a simple, yet exquisite salad that I am in love with. It is brimming with zesty spring flavors of lemon and tarragon, and the light chicken taste keeps this salad from becoming too heavy. The combination of these flavors is MAGICAL!!!
Tarragon Chicken Salad with Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette
(Serves 4 as a main course)
(Adapted from Bon Appétit’s recipe for Lemon Vinaigrette)
For the Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh tarragon leaves, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (+ more to taste)
- A dash each of Kosher salt and white pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly. Set aside, allowing the flavors to blend. Taste for seasonings, adding a little more sugar or vinegar as needed. (Can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated; bring to room temperature prior to using.)
For the Chicken Salad
- 2 cups (16 ounces) roasted chicken, diced into 1/2″ pieces
- 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt-free seasoning (I love Kirkland brand’s “Organic No-Salt Seasoning from Costco)
- Kosher and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 head of Butter Lettuce, leaves washed and dried thoroughly
- 1/4 cup Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing (optional)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds for garnish
- Croissant crisps for garnish (recipe follows)
In a large bowl, combine the diced chicken, celery, and salt and pepper to tastel.
In a smaller bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon zest, shallots, fresh tarragon, dijon mustard, and no-salt seasoning, stirring to combine well. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the chicken and celery until evenly blended, and set aside.
Arrange 2 or 3 butter lettuce leaves onto each of four individual salad plates. Place a half cup (4 ounces) of chicken salad on top of the leaves. Drizzle a Tablespoon of the Poppyseed Dressing (if using) over each salad, then follow with a drizzle of the Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sliced almonds on top of each salad. Garnish each plate with a few croissant crisps, and serve immediately.
For the Croissant Crisps
- 2 small croissants or one large croissant, sliced into 1″ pieces
- 1-2 Tablespoons butter
Place a medium skillet over medium heat, and melt a tablespoon of butter. Add the croissant pieces and toast them for about 30 seconds. When beginning to brown, flip them over (adding more butter if needed) to toast the opposite side. Remove quickly to prevent burning, and set aside for garnish.
Wine pairing: I am such a huge fan of Rodney Strong wines. They’re price-conscious, but more importantly, nothing is sacrificed in flavor. The Rodney Strong Estate Chalk Hill Chardonnay is a fuller-bodied wine that accompanies the rich flavors of this chicken salad.
I relish in a delicious Vigonier on most any occasion I can possibly dream up! And Arrowood’s Saralee’s Vineyard Vigonier is another great wine that won’t blast the budget. The lighter citrus flavors of this vintage beautifully complement the salad’s lemon and herb flavors.