Though I first made this for my girl Alison’s baby shower, I was recently at a wedding shower where the host used my recipe to feed the crowd, and I was reminded how much I love it. I halved the recipe and my family crushed it – every single one of us. Not a big fan of mayo-based salads (this lightened up lemony version being an exception) this Italian-style salad is perfection. Dairy and gluten free, it’s a GREAT option for potlucks. Both times it served a crowd we did a bowl of mixed greens as well as croissants. The recipe is incredibly straightforward – pretty hard to mess up. I chose to poach the chicken because I find it yields the most tender results, so please read this before you get started. To poach a food you cook it at a “near simmer”. This means as it cooks you should see a bit of movement in the water, but no bubbles. If you bubble away your chicken it will NOT be tender, it will be tough and chewy. Just glance at the pot a few times and make sure it’s not simmering. Easy. When I made it recently I used my crockpot – about three hours on high. Remember to taste for salt before serving!
Italian-Style Chicken Salad for a Crowd
Serves about 18
4.25 lb. chicken breasts (8-10 chicken breasts) (12 c. chopped cooked chicken)
2 1/2 c. jarred roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
1 c. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. champagne vinegar
1/4 c. dijon mustard
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add chicken breasts and when water comes back to a boil, reduce to medium. Keep the water at a near boil for about 10 minutes. Alternately cook chicken in slow cooker – 3 hours on high.
2. Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Chop into bite sized pieces.
3. Place chicken in largest mixing bowl and add peppers, onion, parsley, and almonds.
4. To make vinaigrette, whisk olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, mayonnaise and salt and pepper in a small bowl or jar.
5. Pour over salad mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready, up to several hours.
6. Serve over Bibb lettuce or in sandwiches.