Tarragon Chicken Salad with Pecans and Figs

chicken salad sandwich

A couple weeks ago, I had a chicken salad sandwich at Oddfellows (my office) on Capitol Hill.  I ate lunch at 10:30.  That's a mom for you.  I had gotten up early and done a million things already, so it surely felt like lunchtime.  At the counter placing my order, none of the breakfast things fit the bill.  Across the menu board, in the Lunch column, I saw the chicken salad sandwich.  Perfect.  And it was. When it came, I shoved my laptop aside, tried not to scarf it, and enjoyed the big sunlit room and all the chatter around me.  Before motherhood, lunch by myself didn't feel as much like going to Disneyland.

Incidentally, Oddfellows has a rare combination of counter service (which I love) and incredible table service (water, coffee refills, general attentiveness) once you're seated.  I've never come across another place quite like it.  And they are so friendly, which isn't something I can say for lots of Capitol Hill establishments where I immediately feel like a frumpy Mom walking in, like someone's announcing, "THIS GIRL ISN'T AN ARTIST AND HER IDEA OF A GOOD TIME IS TO GO TO BED EARLY!"

Even though it was hot yesterday and we were supposed to be living it up at the beach, I puttered around the kitchen most the day while Yancey paid attention to the kids.  Our house stays surprisingly cool and the kitchen seemed much more inviting than the blazing hot deck.  It's good for my Thai chile plants, though. Bethany raised her eyebrows a little bit (in a kind way) when I told her I was growing chiles.  Not an amateur thing to do in the Pacific NW, but they are producing beautifully and I'll pick my first ones this week.  That feels like Disneyland, too.

For dinner, we had some of this salad with bread, crackers,fresh veggies, olives, fruit, bits and pieces from my puttering. Loretta had three helpings of a little cabbage slaw I made, stuffing big handfuls in her mouth and asking for more while she did it.  I don't know what got into her.  If that's not Disneyland for a mom, I don't know what is.

with crackers

Tarragon Chicken Salad with Pecans and Figs
This makes a rather large batch.  Once you taste it, you'll be glad.  Have I mentioned I'm feeding a firefighter? (hah!).  This is for him to eat all week.  You can sub hazelnuts or almonds for the pecans and use halved red grapes instead of dried figs or leave the fruit out all together.  I didn't use grapes because I wanted something sturdier, something I could pull out of the fridge 3 days from now and not worry about slimy grapes.  And the figs were really delicious in it.  You can eat this in sandwiches or or crackers or, my favorite, put on a scoop on a big old plate of greens and drizzle a little olive oil over the whole thing.

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 shallot, finely minced
3/4 c. mayo (+ 1 Tb. of cream if you like to loosen it  a little)
salt and pepper
juice and zest from one lemon (or less to taste)
3/4 c. toasted pecans, finely chopped (put pecans on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for 8-9 minutes-watch carefully!  Remove when evenly browned all over.)
1/3 c. dried figs, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh tarragon, finely chopped (or less to taste)

To poach chicken, put a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Drop chicken breasts in, bring to a boil again, then simmer for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.  Drain in a colander and let cool.  After they've cooled, cube them.

Dump everything else in the bowl with the cubed chicken and gently mix.  Add more of anything to taste.