Mad Hatter’s Chicken Salad

4.5.11 § 11 Comments

This past week I was so busy with a freelance job that I didn’t even have time to grocery shop (or blog, obviously). It was pretty awful, but yay, money! Thankfully I had some chicken breasts in the freezer, so when I finally got tired of munching on ramen, I thawed a couple of those and poached them with some onions, celery, and carrot. I was planning to us the chicken in a quesadilla, but lo and behold, when I opened the refrigerator, there were no tortillas! (Story of my life.)

I had an apple on hand though, and I knew there were some cashews in the pantry, so I decided to make my all-time favorite chicken salad. It’s not exactly revolutionary, posting a recipe for chicken salad, but I had never had this version before I moved to Durham for college, and I love it, so I want to share it with you.

Even now, two years after graduating, I crave this sandwich, and I find myself improvising versions of this chicken salad all the time. It’s especially comforting when I’m swamped with work; I think it’s because when I was pulling all-nighters writing papers or studying for a test, the only break I’d often take was to nom on this sandwich from Mad Hatter’s.

Anyway, if you’re bored with your normal chicken salad routine, mix it up with this cashew-apple concoction. You might be a convert…

Cashew-Apple Chicken Salad
adapted from Mad Hatter’s Restaurant, Durham, NC

*This isn’t so much a recipe as a method. I think on things like tuna and chicken salad,ย  you’ve pretty much got to decide on your own ratios. Some people like more or less mayo, etc.

White meat from a chicken breast (you can use dark if you prefer, but for chicken salad I always use white)
Granny Smith or other tart apple
Cashews (I use salted for this, but you can use unsalted and then add salt if you like)
Scallions, roughly chopped (optional)
Juice from half a lemon
Dijon mustard (this time I used coarse grained, and I loved it!)

Either chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces, or use a fork to shred it if you prefer. Core your apple and cut it into small cubes. Throw the apple and a handful of cashews in with the chicken. If you’re using scallions, mix them in. Add mayonnaise just a spoonful at a time, mixing it in and adding more until you’ve got the right amount for you. Add a dollop of mustard (I use a large dollop) and then sprinkle the salad with salt and pepper. Squeeze your lemon over it and mix once more, until everything is incorporated.

If making a sandwich, slap the chicken salad on some bread with a slice or two of tomato and some lettuce, and you’re good to go!



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§ 11 Responses to Mad Hatter’s Chicken Salad

  • Rachel says:

    You can also use plain yogurt as a mayo substitute to keep it even healthier. I do this with tuna, dipping sauces, spinach dip, etc. all the time–and can barely taste a difference.

    • Tyla says:

      Sweet tip, yo! I feel like I’d read that before, but it never occurs to me in the moment. I’ll have to try it out next time…a reason to make this again soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  • cindydyer says:

    Mmm…that sure looks good. I skipped lunch today and now you’ve made me hungry! Thanks for sharing the recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • DK says:

    Yum, this just reminded me of the cashew chicken sandwich at Good Earth (an unfortunately now-defunct restaurant chain in CA) that was a big fave back when I ate chicken. Maybe there’s a faux chicken option I could use…

  • renie says:

    Tyla, A sandwich on REAL bread??? The chicken salad looks great, but the real bread looks better (we just can’t get any of that stuff here in Clovis…) A job? What did you do???

    • Tyla says:

      Someone should open a bakery there in Clovis, they’d make a killing! Well, maybe not, but it’d be nice to have fresh bread…

      As for the job, it’s just freelance SAT/ACT editing…I’ve been doing it since I was a freshman in college. BUT, I DO have a really exciting meeting tomorrow for some freelance food-related work, so stay tuned!

  • Brianne says:

    I was in Durham for a few days last fall (and visited the Duke campus–so beautiful!), and after I got back I started noticing postings on various sites about all the great restaurants in the area. I hope I get to go back!

    Also, I am all about large dollops of coarse grained mustard. Mustard is my favorite condiment for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tyla says:

      If you’re ever headed back to Durham you’ll have to let me know…it’s my favorite place in the world to give restaurant recommendations for!

  • sofia says:

    oooh yum. i like the yogurt idea, too! why did i never think to pair tart apples and chicken? i feel like i missed the boat. i am hoppin’ on stat.

  • Tamara Curtis says:

    Mmmmh! Not fair. You’re making me miss you, trips to Durham and Mad Hatters all at the same time. Salad sounds great. Off to the store for ingredients! Mom

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