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Chicken salad with walnuts, celery, and pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce

Chicken salad with walnuts, celery, and pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce, from The Perfect Pantry.

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 flavors of the Middle East.

Chicken salad with walnuts, celery, and pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce

From the pantry, you'll need: Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, harissa, pomegranate molasses, cumin, coriander, walnuts.

Serves 4.


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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

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

Use leftover rotisserie chicken to make this chicken salad with Middle Eastern flavors.

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


A great pantry recipe! I like nothing better after a long day at work than to whip up a hearty sandwich from pantry ingredients.

I can't say I've ever seen pomegranate molasses. I'll have to check out my local grocery store and see if they carry it. This salad sounds and looks totally delicious.

I love the idea of a kicked-up chicken salad. And I have both Harissa and Pomegranate Molasses!

TW, chicken salad is universal comfort food, isn't it? I always have a good stash of Middle Eastern condiments in my pantry.

Kristi, you can make your own pomegranate molasses if you can't find it in the store. Start with plain pomegranate juice, and boil it down to one-fourth of its volume.

Kalyn, try this one with leftover turkey, too. The sauce is a strange color but the taste is amazing.

This sounds wonderful!!

Nicole, it is so good. So simple, and so good.

I actually think this might be even better with turkey - something about the pomegranate-harissa feeling like a "kicked" up craberry sauce!

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