Keep it simple, keep it seasonal
In my opinion, the best dishes are always those which are simply prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients. In Portland, I am lucky to have access to several great farmers markets and also keep a small herb and veggie garden at home. As a result, my cooking evolves with each season, depending on what looks particularly good at the market or what is ready to be harvested from my own garden.
Inspiration from my travels
Other sources of food inspiration come from my travels. In a recent post titled “Eating our Way Through Paris,” I wrote about some of the delicious meals my fella and I consumed in Paris this time last year and how they shaped some of our favorite memories of the trip. My French Chicken Salad is one of my favorite ways to pay homage to the light floral and citrus notes that were so prevalent on our trip to Paris, while also eating seasonally in the Northwest.
As spring is in full force, our market is chock full of the green onions, celery, and fresh herbs that are used in this dish. Currently, my own herb garden is producing ample amounts of fresh chives and French tarragon which I love using to amplify simple dishes like this French Chicken Salad, as well as toss into marinades, dressings, and even eggs.
I generally use an organic dried Herbs de Provence mix in lieu of making my own because I use such a small amount in this recipe. However, all of the herbs found in the mix should be plentiful at most farmers markets should you wish to make your own. A typical mix is made up of herbs typical of the Provence region of southeast France, including basil, fennel, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, lavender, tarragon, and thyme, though you may see some with oregano, bay, and mint as well.
Put the ballpark mustard down!
The other item I use in both this French Chicken Salad recipe and consistently in my cooking is a good Dijon mustard, which I feel is too often lumped in with the yellow squeeze bottles hanging out in the refrigerator door. On our last day in Paris, I purchased a large jar of Edmond Fallot Dijon Mustard for around 6 euros (~ 7 US dollars). By no means was this an expensive or indulgent purchase, but it ended up being one of my favorite things we brought back from our entire trip because it really opened my eyes to how much a really good Dijon mustard could elevate a simple dish.
You can find Edmond Fallot mustard at some specialty markets and online at Amazon. My pantry always has an embarrassingly large stock of their classic Dijon Mustard and Dijon with Horseradish because I go through it so quickly.
Is one mustard really different from another?
In its essential form, Dijon mustard is a paste made from finely ground brown mustard seeds and verjuice (the juice of unripe grapes) or white wine, though some varieties may include additional spices. It is often spicier than a traditional yellow mustard owing to both the spice level of the brown mustard seeds and the low-acidity of the verjuice or white wine.
The bright yellow squeeze bottle of mustard, popular at ballparks and BBQs gets it’s bright hue from a mix of yellow mustard seeds and turmeric, which are mixed with vinegar, water, and other spices. This mustard is generally considered to be pretty mild because the spice level of the yellow mustard seed is on the low end and the acidity brought on by the vinegar also helps to mellow any heat reaction.
Essentially, a small amount of good Dijon will often offer a bit of complex spiciness to your dishes without overpowering the flavor with acid. Whereas a classic yellow mustard will allow your dish to take on a milder spice level and a vinegary flavor. For this French Chicken Salad, I highly suggest you use a good Dijon mustard as the vinegar in the yellow mustard will very much overpower the other great flavors of the dish.
To grate or to zest?
If you want to make things easy on yourself, a microplane will make quick work of zesting your orange. For years I zested fruit using a traditional fine grater and hated every second of it until I finally broke down and bought this one from Amazon; I use it weekly for things like oranges, lemons, limes, and ginger. If you don’t have one yet or aren’t interested in adding one more thing to your pantry drawer, the fine side of a grater will work, but there will likely be a little more elbow work involved.
My favorite ways to serve this dish
If you’re grain-free, this French Chicken Salad is great over a bed of salad greens or eaten simply on its own. If you’re not gluten-adverse or have a favorite gluten-free bread, this makes for a wonderful sandwich. I also love the idea of this topped on a grain-free baguette or cracker with a bit of extra orange zest on top for a gorgeous hors-d’oeuvre. This recipe should keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days, but good luck making it last that long!
A note for special diets
This French Chicken Salad is grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, nightshade-free and friendly for Paleo, SIBO, Keto, Low-FODMAP, and Whole30 diets.
French Chicken Salad
Yield 7 1/2 cups
- 3 large chicken breasts (about 2lbs), cooked and diced or shredded
- 1/2 cup celery finely chopped
- 1/2 cup green grapes, halved or quartered
- 1/2 cup green onion, chopped (just the green part if you are SIBO or Low-FODMAP)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 3/4 cup Paleo mayo
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh orange zest, plus more to top if desired
- 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
For the chicken:
I generally cook my chicken breasts in my pressure cooker first, 10-12 minutes on high pressure with 2 c broth or water (refer to the recommended minimum liquid for your machine). If you don't have a pressure cooker, boiling or baking is totally fine. If you want to make this dish really easy, shredded rotisserie chicken works wonderfully.
- In a large bowl, add the chicken, celery, grapes, green onion, and almonds. Reserve to the side.
- In a medium bowl mix mayo, Dijon mustard, chives, tarragon, orange zest, and Herbs de Provence.
- Add this dressing to the chicken and stir gently to combine.
If you're grain-free, this French Chicken Salad is great over a bed of salad greens or eaten simply on its own. If you're not gluten-adverse or have a favorite gluten-free bread, this makes for a wonderful sandwich. I also love the idea of this topped on a grain-free baguette or cracker with a bit of extra orange zest on top for a gorgeous hors d'oeuvre. This recipe should keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days, but good luck making it last that long!
Courses Mains, Salads & Dressings
Serving Size 1/8th of recipe
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 23 g
Sodium 227 mg
Total Carbohydrates 4 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 2 g
Protein 28 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.