From Arugula to Ziti: Curried Chicken Salad

I thought a long time about how to write this inaugural post for iVillage, and the first thing that came to mind was how my husband's advice was to not write about how I was trying to decide what to write. But I do that all the time, so I ignored him.  I'll start with an introduction. Hello, iVilliage readers. My name is Elena Rosemond-Hoerr. I'm a southern food writer, photographer, and eater of food, usually found on my own website, biscuits & such ( I live in the D.C. area with my husband Dan and all of our crap. Which, for an apartment as small as ours, is overwhelming. 

This is me. I was going to say that my husband snapped this shot, but that would be a complete lie because he was standing on a chair and I brushed my hair. The apron is par for the course though, aprons get me in the right mindset to cook. When I agreed to write this weekly blog for iVillage I was looking at it as the anti biscuits & such, the everything-but-southern food blog. I write about southern food a lot and I am, in fact, southern, but a fair amount of what we eat is not southern. From tacos to fried rice to artisan quesadillas, I am a lover of all varieties of food.

I'd like to use this iVillage blog to bring you a mixture of food that you can make quickly for yourself or yourself and your family, and food that you can spend an afternoon with. Because while I love to spend a Sunday making a pie from the crust up, I also have a bastion of recipes that I call on during the week, quick dinners that I can throw together and eat in my pajamas. For my first recipe, I'd like to introduce my curried chicken salad, something that you can make (quickly), refrigerate, and enjoy for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast if you're that kind of lady.

I was introduced to curry chicken salad when I was in college, working at a local museum. This museum had three things that drew me to the cafe during my lunch break- a reasonable discount, a delicious chicken sandwich, and the world's grumpiest woman. I'll lead with explaining that I love chronically grumpy people. Not people that are in bad moods occasionally, but people who react to life with loud, heavy sighs and exaggerated eye rolls. The woman who worked the cafe at this museum was not just chronically grumpy, she was comically grumpy. It didn't matter if she was serving you some soup or if you were bugging her for lemons for your coke, she handed everything over with an attitude. Nothing came with a smile, every transaction was laced with sarcasm.

At first I was offended, annoyed. I mean, I worked in customer service for years and I while I certainly got frustrated with the people I interacted with, I was always able to put on a happy face. After observing this woman I realized that it wasn't just me that she treated with the grumples, it was everyone. It became a game I loved to play, going upstairs to get my sandwich, seeing if I could wield my sarcasm well enough to get a smile out of her. I went upstairs to the cafe to get my sandwich with a side of hilarity.
This curry chicken salad, my homage to the woman that made my work days so much more enjoyable, is also both delicious and easy to make. In my opinion chicken salad is better when enjoyed cold, so I made this one morning, refrigerated it, and we ate it for dinner later in the week. The chicken is poached, which cooks it evenly without giving it any crispy edges (perfect for a chicken salad), and tossed with fresh herbs and vegetables, a little mayonnaise, and curry powder. Eaten plain or wrapped in pita or lettuce, it's a light, healthy, fresh, and tasty meal.

Curry Chicken Salad
2 chicken breasts
½ red onion
2 cups baby carrots
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 granny smith apple
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 ½ tbsp curry powder
1 lime
Salt & pepper to taste
Begin by poaching your chicken breast. In a pot, cover your chicken in water. Stir in ½ tbsp curry powder, a sprinkle of salt, and the zest from one lime. Boil for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Thinly slice the apple and dice the carrots, onion, and cilantro. Once the chicken has cooled, tear off pieces and combine with the vegetables. Top with lime juice.
In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise and curry powder. Stir into the other ingredients and chill at least 2 hours.
Serves 4. 
Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a writer and photographer and can be found on her own website,
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