Wild Rice Chicken Salad

Barry grilling the chicken
breasts for this salad.
   This is a great hot dish chicken salad that I’ve used for catering.  I included it in  The Kirby House Cookbook and this is what I wrote as a recipe header, “A great salad for a luncheon or take it to a covered dish dinner. This salad is so versatile--see ideas for variations or be creative and make your own substitutions or additions.”

Wild Rice Chicken Salad        Yield:  6 to 8 servings
1 (6 oz.) pkg. long grain and wild rice (chicken flavored)
2½ to 3 cups cooked, diced chicken (poach, grill or slow cook it in the crock pot)
2 cups finely chopped celery
1½  to 2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
½  cup sliced green onions
¼  cup diced red bell peppers (the jarred kind work well too)
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Lettuce leaves

½ cup vegetable oil (canola)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½  teaspoon black pepper

1.  Prepare rice according to package directions and set aside.
2.  Prepare chicken and chop veggies.
Grilled chicken breasts - can be cut into chunks or sliced and placed on top of salad.
Chicken could also be poached or even slow cooked in the crock pot.
3. Whisk dressing ingredients until well blended.
4.  For a warm salad: In a large bowl, combine rice, chicken and veggies; add dressing and toss. Pour into a serving bowl lined with lettuce leaves; garnish with toasted almonds.
To make ahead: Prepare all ingredients and store separately in refrigerator. Warm rice and chicken before serving and then combine as described above.
For a cold salad: In a serving bowl, toss prepared chicken, rice and veggies. Chill. Toss with dressing right before serving. Garnish with lettuce leaves and toasted almonds.

·  Add water chestnuts and/or rice noodles (such as China Boy®) for added crunch and flavor. 
·  Substitute other cooked meats (pork, turkey, etc.).
·  Instead of cutting the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces, grill one chicken breast per person. Cut into diagonal slices and arrange atop a plated salad.
·  Experiment with other flavored vinegars in place of the red wine vinegar. 
.  Use chopped tomatoes in place of the chunked red pepper

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