It's summer time, though you wouldn't know it with this wintry weather we are having here in Berkeley. Regardless of the temperature outside, during the summer season I cannot seem to eat enough salad. Around noon, I peer into the fridge and start to imagine a meal based on what we've got on-hand. Fresh cherries marinated in balsamic with toasted hazelnuts and goat cheese has been a new discovery. Or arugula, hard-boiled egg, and thinly sliced fennel is a standby. And almost any salad with avocado makes me happy.

We often have leftover roast chicken, a prime candidate for salad-making, and this tarragon chicken is one of our favorites. There are a few unexpected ingredients - fennel, shallots, and pine nuts - but otherwise the salad is a classic that always seems to be a crowd pleaser, working as a simple lunch or a great picnic.

Serve salad on a bed of butter lettuce or eat on a sandwich. We devoured ours on homemade gougeres. I'll have that recipe for you next week.

  • 1 pound leftover roasted chicken, or chicken breast (with skin and bone removed)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (please try homemade... it will make you smile)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot (you could also use red onion)
  • 1/3 cup crisp green apple, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • butter lettuce
  • fresh bread or gougere

If you are going to make your own mayo, do so now and set aside.

Lightly toast pine nuts on the stove top. Of course you can roast nuts in the oven, but my mother-in-law converted me to using the stove top. You can keep an eye on the nuts, giving them a shake every few minutes to insure even toasting. When done, set aside.

If you don't have any leftover chicken and are going to cook chicken for this salad, here's what you do. Preheat oven to 350. Take chicken from the fridge. Generously salt meat. Heat an oven-proof skillet on the stove top at medium to medium high heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of butter to the hot pan. Place chicken in the bubbling butter. You don't want the chicken to get really browned, so check that the heat isn't too high. Very lightly sear each side of the chicken. Place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking.  It should come out nice and tender.

While the chicken is cooking, prep the other ingredients. Peel apple and cut into julienne. Mince shallot. Finely chop fennel. Chop tarragon.

In a medium bowl, mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise, mustard, shallot, fennel, apple, lemon juice, and two tablespoons tarragon (save the third tablespoon for garnish). Set aside.

When the chicken is cooked and has rested for about 10 minutes to collect its juices, cut into small bite-sized chunks.  Note: if you are using leftover roast chicken for this recipe, make sure the meat is room temperature before adding to the salad. Toss chicken and toasted pine nuts in with the other ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Feel free to add a little more mayo, lemon, juice or salt and pepper.

Scoop chicken salad onto bed of butter lettuce or a nice fresh roll. Sprinkle with additional chopped tarragon for garnish.

Serves 6.


  1. your salad looks and sounds great....but it's been so cold lately, I can't even think of eating one....It's hot tea and soups for me lately...
    I'll save this recipe for some warmer days... I hope they're coming soon... :)

  2. Summer and salad go hand in hand!

    Great post, this salad looks divine!

  3. Oh this looks amazing. I love tarragon in chicken salad. The two work so well together. And I bet the sweetness from the apple gives it that something extra. I'm excited about the recipe for the gougeres.

  4. Tarragon in one of my favourite herbs with chicken, so this salad sounds wonderful... especially with the fennel and apple and pine nuts added in for crunch.
    I've never thought to use gougeres instead of bread, but that sounds positively decadent. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Just found your blog tonight...I'm so impressed with your site (the layout, photos, recipes). This looks like a light and refreshing summer meal, something that my mom and sisters would greatly enjoy! I can imagine us all sitting together over lunch.

  6. Classic summer flavors and stunning photography make a great read! GREG

  7. Beautiful photos of a classic summer salad! I can just imagine have a girls lunch and serving this. Thank you for sharing!

  8. that looks gorgeous...I know what I'm having for dinner tomorrow night!

  9. Beautiful, but I've come to expect nothing less from you! Looking forward to putting that tarragon in my garden to a new use.

  10. Wow, this chicken salad looks amazing! I love that you used fennel and tarragon. What a great deviation from the norm.

  11. This looks delicious! Your photographs are beautiful!
    I'd love for you to check out my blog and let me know what you think! www.prettygoodfood.com
    Thanks and Happy Cooking!

  12. Yummy, a nice change from my standard chicken curry salad. The flavors of this salad blend so well. Don't make the mistake I did though-My pine nuts were not super fresh. From now on I will refrigerate them.

    1. Marry, I'm a big fan of curried chicken salad too, but oh I love the tarragon here. Yum!


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