In Boston's South End neighborhood, where my husband Ted and I moved more than thirty years ago, almost every corner used to boast a spa (Boston-speak for an all-purpose market), or a Middle Eastern grocery, or a bar. The bars have long since closed -- many replaced by the fine restaurants that now define the South End -- and, sadly, most of the Middle Eastern businesses have gone, too. The spas endure, and almost every one that offers prepared food sells a basic, uninspired, too-much-mayo chicken salad.
My new chicken salad recipe with walnuts and celery features a pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce that reminds me of the wonderful ingredients I used to buy at the local Middle Eastern markets. It's sweet and tangy, and as spicy as you want to make it, perfect in a sandwich or lettuce wrap. If I owned a spa in the neighborhood, I'd make this my signature chicken salad.
Chicken salad with walnuts, celery, and pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 to 1 tsp harissa (to taste)
1/2 to 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (to taste)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
Toss the chicken and celery into a mixing bowl.
In a small nonstick dry frying pan, toast the walnuts over low heat for 3-4 minutes, until they are just slightly browned and beginning to give off a nutty aroma. Add the nuts to the chicken and celery.
In a small mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients for the sauce. Taste, and adjust as you wish with more harissa (if you like it spicy) and/or more pomegranate molasses.
Pour the sauce into the chicken, and mix well. Refrigerate in the bowl for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine, or pack into a container with a lid, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Serve in a sandwich or in lettuce cups.
More pomegranate molasses:
Slow cooker pomegranate chicken salad, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker beef brisket with pomegranate molasses gravy, from The Perfect Pantry
Moroccan lamb patties with harissa and pomegranate molasses, from From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours
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