My first memory of chicken salad was in Iran. It was the summer of 1977, and my family and I were visiting the Irani side of the family. I was in the back seat, next to my mother , brother, and an aunt. One of my Uncles was driving and my father was in the front passenger seat maneuvering the winding road that leads through dessert mountains on our way to the Irani homestead in Kashan. Next to my feet, in a navy canvas bag, I spied with my little eye, crustless rectangular sandwiches filled with….something. I was short and round (I'm still short and round) but attentive and quiet as a cat when my chubby little hands were in search of food. I had discovered Salad Olivieh.
Salad Olivieh is the Persian version of chicken salad… or some say potato salad… I say chicken salad. Shredded roasted chicken mixed with a mayonnaise (and a little mustard), potato, early green peas, chopped dill pickle and of course saffron. Can’t forget the saffron.
The drive from Teheran to Kashan was long, and according to the home movies winding and treacherous when maneuvering the two-lane road up and down mountains to get to the family homestead… but it was also a delicious drive. I think also a testimony to my stealth like handiwork on finishing off half of the family’s lunch without being noticed. It could have also been my exhausted mother knowing exactly what I was doing and thinking “as long as you’re preoccupied have at it.” Whatever the case, I was satisfied and have never forgotten the delicious flavor and first experience of Persian chicken salad.
Chicken salad can be whatever you want. My requirements for a chicken salad are easy: Never boiled, always white and dark meat, and never chunks. I prefer the chicken roasted instead of boiled poached, a combination of white and dark meat, and the chicken hand shredded instead of perfectly cut squared off chunks. The rest is up to you and whatever you have available. I hope you enjoy today’s version of chicken salad. I say today because who knows what tomorrow's chicken salad recipe could be. Also, I highly recommend having a plan B for lunch when there are chubby little hands near.
Chicken Salad 7.27.16
1 2- 2 1/2pound roasted chicken, with meat pulled and shredded (about 3 cups)
1 cup cooked Farro
LaVash bread or flat bread for your “wrap”
shredded arugula for the wrap
Quick Pickled cucumber, red pepper, and ginger julienne*