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Update a classic with Avocado Chicken Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing

Sarah's Avocado Chicken Salad, which features avocado, bacon and apple, is served with a Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 4
Bacon, celery, avocado, chicken, dressing, cucumber, radish and apple are combined in this salad. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 4
Bacon, celery, avocado, chicken, dressing, cucumber, radish and apple are combined in this salad. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor3 / 4
Avocado is squeezed into the Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor4 / 4

Recently, I was playing around with different ways to use rotisserie chicken and ended up giving an old-fashioned deli favorite a contemporary update with my newest recipe for Avocado Chicken Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing.

A rich and creamy dressing is the key to a great chicken salad, and while mayonnaise is typically the binding agent in a traditional version, I used plain Greek yogurt instead. While it's a healthier alternative than mayo, the yogurt is also more neutral in flavor, so I knew that I’d need to employ a few tricks to ensure that the dressing was still lush and full of flavor.

Avocado is the key to this chicken salad, with half of the fruit mashed into the dressing to bolster its creaminess, and the other half diced into cubes to be tossed into the salad.

A generous amount of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese brings a delicious punch of tangy flavor to the dressing and even more creamy goodness. A touch of extra-virgin olive oil is used to ensure the dressing isn’t too thick, and I incorporated two acids, apple cider vinegar and fresh lime juice, to help cut through all the creamy components. I really enjoyed the blend of acids in the dressing, but you could also use just lime juice or vinegar, or even fresh lemon juice.

A bit of minced shallot and fresh herbs add another boost of flavor, and while I used parsley in the recipe, fresh dill or tarragon would also work well.

Once the dressing is ready, large hunks of diced chicken are added along with a medley of fresh vegetables and fruit. For this salad, I chose ingredients that would provide balance in both texture and flavor, and then prepared them so that nearly every mouthful could include each component.

I cut fresh radishes into thin matchsticks, which makes them visually pleasing and small enough to be scooped up in every bite. For a fresh and crispy crunch, I cut cucumber and apple into small cubes the same size, and then sliced a stalk of celery into thin half-moons.

For a smoky finish, I added about a quarter-cup of roughly chopped and cooked bacon, but the second time I made the salad without the bacon and Tony thought it was even better, so you can decide.

Avocado Chicken Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve. We enjoy it in heaping mounds on a croissant with fresh butter lettuce, and it’s pretty good on just plain old toast, too. For a more stylish presentation, I would fill a platter with leaves of fresh butter or romaine lettuce topped with the chicken salad.

Easy to prepare, elegant and delicious, I hope you enjoy this chicken salad as much as we do.

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Avocado Chicken Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing

PRINT: Avocado Chicken Salad recipe

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced shallot

1 avocado, divided (mash half into the dressing and cut the other half into small dices)

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups large-diced chicken (I use rotisserie)

2 radishes, sliced into thin matchsticks (about 1/3 cup)

1/3 cup cucumber, small-diced

1/3 cup apple, peeled and small-diced

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, add the Gorgonzola, yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, cider vinegar, lime juice, shallot and half of the avocado and use a fork to mix thoroughly until well combined. Stir in the parsley, salt and pepper; taste and adjust flavors as desired.

Add the chicken, diced avocado, radishes, cucumber, apple, celery, bacon and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Use a large spoon or rubber spatula to combine until evenly coated. Taste and season as needed.

Serve on a sandwich or atop fresh lettuce leaves.

To store: Salad may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve. Drizzle with olive oil to moisten salad if needed.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • For consistency, keep the dice-cut of the avocado, cucumber and apple the same size. Dice the chicken into larger pieces about twice that size.
  • Tuna may be substituted for the chicken.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

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