How can a recipe with no chicken and no mayo be a chicken salad? You would be surprised. White beans, avocado mayo, and the usual suspects of celery, salad onions, tarragon and nuts (in this case, pecans) give a credible imitation without involving our cluckin’ lovely feathered friends.
When I first started thinking about making this I was merrily carrying my coat over my arm and revelling in the unseasonable warmth. Not only was it kind of warmish, it was also sunny and not windy. In Edinburgh that’s all we aspire to, even in July, so experiencing this topsy turvy weather in January kind of warped my brain a bit.
Being from Florida I was quick to pounce on this change of weather as a sign that I could relax my normal cold-fearing ways. I could cast off my double layer of socks. I could unwind my thick, tatty scarf and actually put it in the wash. I would dare to wear loafers and dust off the paddle boards. Pah!
The weather gods were quick to realise their error and now we are back to our not-untypical 50mph winds, glowering pensive skies and occasional energetic bursts of sleet. But still, a girl’s got to eat. And I’ve really been craving something like this: a home comfort food that speaks of springtime and picnics.
My mother used to make a mean chicken salad – with added water chestnuts for crunch, and usually some crisp green grapes too. I do think that if she were around she might like this version as it was she who first got us eating veggie chilli, back when such recipes were definitely deemed a second-class choice.
How times have changed. Now veggie versions of meaty dishes are seen as completely and utterly normal. Who doesn’t love a good veggie lasagne? Or, indeed, a vegetarian chilli? Only those whose brains have been addled by too much cold or too much meat would dare insist the meaty version of any applicable recipe is always superior.
I don’t know if I can convince firm meat eaters that my no-chicken salad is as good as that containing our fine feathered friends. But hopefully you, my discerning reader and kindred spirit, will think it is something to crow about.
Vegan No-Chicken Salad
How can a recipe with no chicken and no mayo be a chicken salad? You would be surprised. White beans, avocado mayo, and the usual suspects of celery, salad onions, tarragon and nuts (in this case, pecans) give a creditable imitation without involving our cluckin’ lovely feathered friends.
To keep this a completely whole food recipe I make a quick avocado mayo to bind it all together (you won’t use it all and it is fab with loads of things), but of course use a vegan or regular mayo if you like, but just maybe use half mayo and half smashed avocado.
One quantity of avocado mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice (more to taste)
1 tsp (more if you like) yellow miso, optional
250-300g cooked white beans (or the drained amount from the usual size of can), drained, well-rinsed and lightly crushed with a potato masher or similar
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 spring onions/salad onions, trimmed and whites and a bit of the green finely chopped
30g (1.2 oz) toasted pecans, sliced
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh tarragon OR 1 tsp dried crushed tarragon
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp dried thyme
Salt, a pinch of sugar, and pepper – to taste
Method: In a mixing bowl stir together the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and miso with about two-thirds of a batch of avocado mayo OR 2 tbsp vegan/regular mayo and half of a mashed avocado. Lightly fold in the remaining ingredients.
Serve in Little Gem lettuce cups or on best quality bread.
For something even quicker, why not try Planet Veggie’s Chickpea Mayo Mashup? Or, fancy something with black beans? Here’s Tinned Tomatoes’ Easy Black Bean Pate. And lastly, have a look at this great Avocado Chickpea Salad from Amuse Your Bouche.