Our schools just started last week and it’s going to be a super year!
As a teacher, my culinary mind has turned to healthy, tasty, quick treats I can pack for satisfying mini-meals throughout the day.
I live in VA Beach, next door to Norfolk, VA, where you can regularly find me “Jonesin” for Yorgo’s Bageldashery’s vegan chicken salad (Yorgo’s has a VERY vegan friendly menu). I try to pick up a carton when I “cross the border” for some other reason, but the deli closes at 2 p.m., so I can only make it on the weekends during the school year. And I have been known to drive to Norfok just for the chicken salad. I know, it’s a shameless waste of gas. But I drive a Prius…does that make it almost okay?
At any rate, I have tried–unsuccessfully–in the past to duplicate their vegan chicken salad. But, I tried again and I do believe I got it!
In addition to the taste, the texture is divine. It’s almost a spread, but not quite. It’s more like a very fine mince bound together with a creamy vegan mayo. Pulsing the ingredients in the food processor a few times after each addition did the trick. But, from past experiments, I knew that using all mayo overpowered the other flavors, so keep reading to learn my secret. And, finally, I also realized that I was trying to add too many additional flavors. Keeping it VERY simple was the key.
3 celery hearts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 green onions, white and green part, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1-8 ounce package Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chick’n Strips (or 1/2 pound purchased or homemade chicken-flavored seitan, cut into thin strips or chunks)
3 tablespoons vegan sour cream
1 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, purchased or homemade (I like a neutral tasting mayo like Vegenaise for this)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional: for a Vegan Dill Chicken Salad, add 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill weed or, in the summer, 1 tablespoon of fresh minced dill and stir to evenly distribute.
Place celery in food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped. Add green onions, and process until very finely chopped. Add vegan Chick’n Strips or seitan, and process until chicken is finely chopped. (Other ingredients will be minced at this point.) Add mayo and pulse a very few times, just until combined. Throughout the process, scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary for uniform chopping. Transfer to a serving bowl or storage carton and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Stir in dill weed or fresh dill if desired. Serve as you would any other chicken salad or cover and refrigerate until serving time. Because of both its taste and texture, this chicken salad is especially well-suited to spreading on a cracker, a toasted “everything” bagel or rolled in fresh spinach leaves to create healthy little wraps.