A couple of weekends ago, I stopped by my friend's new apartment in NYC for lunch. She'd made Hot Chicken Salad—a Paula Deen recipe. The woman's name alone is enough to strike fear into any healthy eater's heart. I was worried. But then I took my first bite. Suddenly, I didn't care if the thing contained three sticks of butter. The crispy texture, the creamy flavor, the tender chicken—it was worth every last calorie.
Then I looked up the recipe (at home). Panic ensued.
According to Mama Deen's instructions, the crispy crunch on top came from potato chips. That's where I draw the line: I simply can't justify eating greasy Lay's on top of my casserole. Not matter how good it is. Deeply saddened, I texted my friend. My sadness turned to relief. She'd used bread crumbs instead of chips.
This inspired me. How else could I lighten up the recipe, without compromising flavor?
I think I succeeded. I replaced half the mayo with less-fatty Greek yogurt, and used Panko bread crumbs, which have fewer calories and less sodium than traditional breadcrumbs, instead of potato chips. My taste-testers agreed: It was delicious.
Hot & Healthy Chicken Salad
What you need
2 cups shredded chicken breast meat (thin-cut)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced celery
½ cup almond slivers, toasted
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ cup mayo
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2/3 cup Panko crumbs
Put it all together
- Pour the olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts. When the edges turn white, flip them, and cook the other side. Using two forks, shred the chicken (the inside will still be raw), allowing the pieces to fully cook.
- 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13" baking pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13" baking pan.
- Combine the cooked chicken, celery, almonds, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mayo, Greek yogurt, and cheese.
- Place the mixture in the baking dish, and spread the Panko crumbs on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
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