This chicken salad recipe does not require the use of Sonoma products; you can recreate it with your own local ingredients. The main idea here to shop fresh and buy local, so feel free to use this recipe as an inspiration for your own regional creation!
A Chicken Salad Recipe that Sings “Sonoma”
For a recipe to evoke the true essence of a place it must utilize the local flavors and aromas. Sonoma County wine country is a region of Mediterranean climate that favors wine, fruit, year round blossoms, herbs, cheeses, and home-grown olive oils.
The chicken breasts used were from Sonoma grown free-range organic chickens, but any organic regional chicken will work nicely. If you’re eating low fat, simply remove the skin and replace mayo with a low fat option.
The local choice for the apple in this chicken salad recipe had to be the Gravenstein. Orchards of “Gravs” can be seen scattered across the rolling hills of Sonoma County, bursting with blossoms in the spring and plumped full of red-yellow fruit in late summer. This is one of the most flavorful apples you will ever eat, a wonderful explosion of tart and sweet on the palate. If you can’t find them in your area use Fuji, Braeburn or any apple with a sweet and tart flavor.
Now to the issue of wine, I’m of the school of thought that says if you wouldn’t drink it then don’t cook with it. The wine I chose for the chicken recipe is a delightful Sonoma Riesling, but any good Riesling or sweet white wine will work well.
As Sonoma County is also a perfect region for growing olives, I used a local olive oil. If you don’t have access a local variety then at least be sure that the oil cold-pressed and extra virgin.
I chose basil flowers instead of the leaves because they are more pungent and aromatic, but either can be used. The Rosemary flowers are eye-candy and therefore, optional.
Chicken Salad Recipe – Sonoma Style
1 large or 2 small chicken breasts, roasted or grilled and chopped into bite-sized cubes
1 medium Gravenstein or Fuji apple chopped small
1/3 c of chives chopped
1/2 c of chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/8 cup of quality mayonnaise (low fat optional)
4 tablespoons of fresh basil flowers (or leaves) chopped fine
1 teaspoon of rosemary leaves (blended)
1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel
1/2 jigger of sweet white wine (Riesling, Muscato, or quality wine)
Rosemary or lavender flowers (optional)
Chop the chicken, place in a bowl and set aside.
Chop the apple, place in a shallow dish and cover with white wine.
Remove rosemary leaves from the stalk (enough for 1/2 teaspoon), chop fine and combine with mayonnaise, olive oil, fennel, half jigger of white wine and blend in food processor. Then add the chopped chives, walnuts, basil flowers, apple (strain off wine) to the blended mixture and carefully fold in with the chicken.
Serve on a bed of fresh local, organic greens. Sprinkle rosemary or basil flowers judiciously.