Cashew cream "mayonnaise" with dukkah spice chicken salad made extra flavorful with green onion and fresh ginger for a punch.
Chicken salad is a dish that's a little retro. It can feel a little out dated as a lunch and people always have strong feelings about the 'correct' additions to chicken salad. Yes curry? No curry? Grapes? Having never been exposed to chicken salad in family recipe form, I don't feel a loyalty to a specific methodology or mixture. I only know chicken salad is a creamy sauce plus poached chicken with other stuff in the recipe.
So obviously, I completely went way out of bounds to create what is definitely not traditional chicken salad.
This chicken salad recipe is packed with flavor. It's not over the top creamy mayo flavor (although I do love mayo), but yields to intense, bright flavors in the form of fresh ginger and lots of green onion. The middle layer of flavor is all about the dukkah spice: cumin, sesame seeds, coriander and in this blend, peanuts. Together, it makes a chicken salad that's incredibly crave-worthy straight out of the bowl. The hardest part is waiting for it to chill.
Even though dukkah has been featured on some food websites since around 2013, I don't think it really took off as a highlighted flavor menu description until last 2017. Or at least not where I was reading. Dukkah is a crunchy and aromatic Egyptian spice blend that usually includes cumin, coriander, sesame seeds and some kind of nut. It can be hazelnuts, or even peanuts like in this specific blend I purchased. Dukkah can absolutely be made at home and personally, there's no way I'm buying dukkah premixed as a blend again (I ended up thinking the blend needed more cumin and I already have the spices I need at a fraction of the cost). In terms of usage, I've seen it on yogurt dips, in olive oil, on breads, as a topping for vegetables and even on fish or chicken like we're doing here. There are lots of opportunities to reach for this mixture in the kitchen.
Like I mentioned up top in this post, the cream part of this chicken salad is actually cashew cream. The reason I chose to go that route is because I think having an additional layer of nuttiness alongside the dukkah is a nice subtle addition. It helps the spice blend not be overwhelmed by a traditional mayo. I also like that I could adjust the levels of salt and acid (I added a half lemon's worth of juice and a good pinch of salt to the food processor) for the base. You can absolutely go ahead and use a salad dressing/mayo if you choose to do so for this recipe. I just thought it needed a lighter hand to let the ginger and green onion come through.
I think this recipe ends up being the best version of itself after giving it time in the fridge to let the flavors come together. Immediately after mixing, it is good, don't get be wrong. But after about 2-3 hours chilling in the fridge after mixing it's even better. Flavors intensify and each bite has a good mix of the ginger and especially green onion.
Cashew Cream Dukkah Spice Chicken Salad
- 3 large chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, fat trimmed)
- 1/4 white or yellow sweet onion
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 large green onion, chopped whites and greens
- 1 large rib of celery, sliced
- 2 Tablespoons dukkah spice blend
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place chicken breast, garlic and onion in a large pot and cover with water over medium heat.
- Cook 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 F, or when sliced open, the centers are no longer pink.
- While the chicken is cooking, place cashews in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Refrigerate at least two hours to soak.
- When chicken is done cooking, strain and allow chicken to cool.
- When cashews are ready, strain and rinse. Add to a food processor with 1/2 cup water and lemon juice with a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, adjusting thickness with additional liquid if desired. Cashew cream should be thick enough to coat chicken pieces.
- Cube cooled chicken into equal pieces and toss with preferred amount of cashew cream in a bowl. Note: You will have extra cashew cream remaining.
- Add celery, grated ginger, dukkah, green onion, salt and pepper to a bowl and toss to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.
- Serve with crackers, bread or a bed of greens.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.