Chicken salad, hold the mayo

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2012

By Alison Ladman
For the Associated Press
Like many summer favorites, chicken salad has all the makings of a refreshing, light meal… except for all that mayonnaise.
An easy way to lighten it up is to switch it out for our favorite creamy substitute, nonfat plain Greek yogurt. We also opted to grill the chicken, an easy way to pump up the flavor while adding virtually no fat.
For this recipe, we freshened up our salad by adding some berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend that can feature any number of seasonings, but often includes ginger, cardamom, garlic, cumin and chilies. If you can’t find it or you prefer something a little more tame, switch it out for another spice blend, such as curry powder or Italian seasoning.
For even more flavor and some textural contrast, we added chopped Peppadew peppers. You usually can find these alongside the olives at the grocer. Cherry peppers also would work. After some chopped fennel bulb, a handful of toasted almonds and some grapes, we were finished.
We like to serve this salad stuffed in whole-wheat pita pockets with salad greens, but you also could spoon it over a bed of greens for a hearty salad.
Tangy Grilled Chicken Salad
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and ground black pepper
Canola or vegetable oil
1 to 2 tsp. berbere seasoning
5.3-ounce container nonfat plain
Greek yogurt
1/2 C. chopped Peppadew peppers
1/2 bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and diced
1 C. red grapes, halved
1/4 C. slivered, toasted almonds
4 small whole-grain pita pockets
2 C. salad greens
Heat the grill to medium-high.
Place the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the meat to an even 1/2 inch thickness. Season with salt and black pepper.
Soak a crumpled paper towel with the oil. Clasping the paper towel with tongs, oil the grates of the grill. Grill the chicken breasts for 4 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through and reaches 165 degrees. Set aside to cool, then cut into small chunks.
In a large bowl, combine the berbere with the yogurt, Peppadew peppers, fennel, grapes, almonds and the cooled chopped chicken. Mix well, then season with salt and pepper.
Fill each pita pocket with a quarter of the salad greens, then spoon some of the chicken salad into it.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 300 calories; 50 calories from fat (17 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 34 g protein; 5 g fiber; 260 mg sodium.