A Summertime Chicken Salad
By Dennis Linden
Here’s a quintessential chicken salad recipe with a wonton twist submitted by Jeanne Mastick, Melissa’s National Sales Manager. While this dish was made by Jeanne many years ago for a company holiday potluck event, I think it makes a great chilled lunch or dinner entrée suited for a hot July day. It’s light, healthy and super delicious!
“This recipe came about from a very good friend of mine. I had made it for a company pot luck and everyone in the office wanted the recipe. Actually, I had forgotten all about this dish until recently when someone here found the recipe I had emailed out in a folder dated December 29th, 1995! So I thought it would be good to re-introduce the recipe to our many new associates who were not around back then.”
What differentiates Jeanne’s dish from a classic chicken salad is her introduction of Melissa’s crispy wontons and a tasty no-mayo dressing. The wontons are sliced into thin strips, fried and then tossed with the salad’s other ingredients. BTW do not skimp on the amount of wontons; strip up a whole package, using most in the salad itself and serving some of these addicting chips on the side as they really are the star of the dish.
The other component that really makes this dish sparkle is Jeanne’s dressing. Four simple ingredients plus seasonings provide support to this dish with a flavorful lightness that leaves the heavier, mayo-based traditional version in the culinary dust! Try to think ahead with this recipe by taking Jeanne’s suggestion of letting this dressing steep for twenty-four hours. Of course her instructions inspired my own taste-test comparison: definitely let the mixture rest overnight, as it’s far better with a little age!
One comment about the lettuce components. This was the first time in many years that I have used Iceberg lettuce in any dish since the variety is made up of 99% water and has no nutrients. However, I must say that the water content and crispness of the iceberg really worked well in combination with the romaine as it provided a refreshing characteristic that would have been missing if I had followed my own culinary prejudice and subbed in, say, two leaf lettuce varieties.
Jeanne Mastick is a seasoned veteran of the Melissa’s team, celebrating her 26th year with the company. As National Sales Manager her role has evolved over those years to include a gamut of responsibilities.
“My passion and support for the business continues as my role has become somewhat blended with the dynamics of a very robust Sales Team. I continue to work one to one with certain accounts, handle qualifying other new accounts and generally keep very busy all day bouncing around from one thing to another. I work closely with our Store Calling Team, am involved with several special projects and trouble shoot for the sales team. I also lend a hand orchestrating the logistics for many of the charitable events and trade shows that the company participates in across the country.”
Outside of the office, Jeanne’s interests keep her truly outside, as in out-of-doors, with her canine family of four. Her passion is as a master competitive dog trainer and her “furry kids” have the awards to prove it!
“I have four dogs, two are senior citizens of 17- and 13-years-old and 2 younger ones, ages -8 and 9-years-old, that I continue to train and keep tuned up for competition. I’m kept very busy training them in Obedience, Agility and working Livestock (sheep, cattle, geese, and ducks). Our big HOOAH was last year when we traveled to Oregon to compete at the Australian Shepherd Nationals. Oliver, then seven-years-old, finished 4th out of 225 dogs for Most Versatile Australian Shepherd. We competed with dogs from all over the United States, Canada and Europe. When not working my dogs, I also enjoy gardening, minor projects around the house, and yard work. I really just enjoy being outside for any reason and can always find one!”
So, as we move deep into those long summer days, remember this guaranteed potluck winner for your next picnic or maybe even the July 4th neighborhood celebration! And, while those on Melissa’s IT Support Team would no doubt disagree, a special shout out to Jeanne’s co-worker who neglected to purge his or her email folder! Enjoy.
Wonton Chicken Salad
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, then cubed or shredded
1 celery stalk, chopped roughly
1 carrot, chopped roughly
1 yellow onion, quartered
½ head each romaine & iceberg lettuces, chopped
1 bunch green onions, diced. 1 pkg. Melissa’s Won Ton Wrappers, cut into strips, sautéed golden crisp
2 oz. slivered almonds
1 oz. sesame seeds
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Melissa’s Organic Blue Weber Agave Syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
(Combine all, let rest overnight to allow flavors to meld, mix again just before using)
Quarter chicken breasts, then boil with celery stock, carrot, and onion – cool, then cube or shred into bite size pieces.
Toss the lettuces and diced green onion together in a large bowl. Cut wontons into strips, fry in canola oil (in batches), place on paper towels to absorb extra oil.
Then gently fold in the wontons and chicken pieces to the lettuce mix, toss with the dressing. Top with a generous sprinkle of almonds and sesame seeds. Serve family style or individually.