Whenever I’m asked to bring a dish to potluck or luncheon this is dish I bring. It never fails to win raves. It’s easy to do and can be made a day ahead – just don’t dress it with a vinaigrette until you are ready to serve. Although most bottled ‘Italian’ style salad dressings will work well here, I think the very best dressing for this chicken and wild rice salad, by far my favorite is the Maple Vinaigrette that my friend, Kim, shared with me. She is a fabulous cook and has shared many of her wonderful recipes with me. This particular vinaigrette is extremely easy to make – you’ll make it over and over again once you try it.
Although you can easily make this chicken from a rotisserie chicken which will save you time, my preferred way (when I have the time) is to take boneless chicken breasts, cut them into bite-size pieces, and saute them in olive oil and with dried spices such as basil and oregano.
The top picture is what the salad looks like without dressing, immediately below it is dressed with the Maple Vinaigrette:
Chicken and Wild Rice Salad
- 1 pkg. of Uncle Bens Original Recipe (not ‘fast cooking) Wild Rice
- 3 boneless chicken breasts**, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- olive oil
- 1 tsp. basil and oregano*
- 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup of pecans, toasted then chopped
- Make the packaged wild rice according to package directions. Cook and then let cool 20 minutes.
- Spray a skillet with non-stick spray. Add olive oil and turn heat to medium-high. When the oil shimmers add the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with the basil and oregano. Let cook 2 minutes and then stir. Chicken should be done in about 4-5 minutes. Cut into a piece (one of the larger ones) and check to make sure it isn’t pink inside. Remove from heat and season with the salt and pepper.
- In a bowl combine the rice, chicken, cherries, green onions and pecans***. Refrigerate until needed. Bring to room temperature before serving and dress with vinaigrette 20 minutes prior to serving.
Maple Vinaigrette (Bon Appetit, 2002)
You will only need about 1/4 of this recipe for this salad. Save leftover vinaigrette for another use (it’s delicious on a lettuce salad too!).
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Blend all ingredients in a blender until emulsified. Or, add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl and whisk to blend. Then gradually whisk in oil until mixture thickens.
*Pat the chicken dry before you cut it. Wet chicken steams as you saute instead of developing a nice sear that you want for flavor and looks.
**Don’t worry if you don’t have both. Use whatever you have on hand, or just salt and pepper.*
***To toast pecans preheat your oven to 350F. Spread the pecan on a baking sheet and cook about 4 minutes. Nuts can go from toasted to burnt in a matter of minutes so the first time you make these watch your pecans carefully.
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