Tarragon Chicken Salad (Whole30, Paleo)


By now, I think you all know that I love a big salad. For breakfast! For lunch! For dinner!

Salad is an anytime food!

I’m also partial to the flavor of licorice, so tarragon is one of my favorite herbs—in small doses. It’s milder than fennel, and is often used in French bernaise sauce. In this recipe, the slight anise flavor plays off the sweet-tart apple and the nuttiness of the pecans to make a chicken salad that’s unexpected, but also makes perfect sense.

I like this salad anytime—but especially for breakfast ’cause I’m weird like that—with a mug of Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup on the side. Try it!

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Serves 2–4 | Total time: 30–35 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4–6 ounces each)

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 lemon

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1/3 cup pecan halves

  • 2 Granny Smith apples

  • 1 stalk celery

  • 1 shallot

  • 1 head butter lettuce

  • 3 scallions

Tarragon Mayo:
  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup light-tasting olive or avocado oil

  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon dried chives

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Cook the chicken. Pound the chicken to 1/2-inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap with the smooth side of the meat hammer. Place the chicken in a large saucepan with the water and salt. Cut the lemon into slices, smash and peel the garlic, and add both to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low, 15–20 minutes. When the time is up, turn off the heat and let the chicken sit covered while you prep the rest of the ingredients.


Prep the salad. Place the pecans in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast until lightly browned and fragrant; set them aside to cool. Dice the apple, thinly slice the celery, and mince the shallot. Coarsely chop the pecans. Place everything in a large mixing bowl.


Prep the lettuce. Wash the lettuce and pat it dry; thinly slice the scallions. Arrange the lettuce on serving plates and reserve the scallions for garnish.


Make the Tarragon Mayo. Smash and peel the garlic clove and place it in a pint-size Mason jar. Add the egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, lemon juice, chives, tarragon, salt, and pepper to the jar. Whirl with the stick blender until puréed. With the blender running inside the jar, add the remaining 1/2 cup oil and blend until smooth.


Mix the salad. Remove the chicken from the pan, pat dry, and either cut into cubes or shred with two forks. Add it to the bowl with the apples and 1/4 cup Tarragon Mayo; toss well and add more dressing, as necessary.


To serve, divide the chicken salad among the serving plates and sprinkle with scallions.

Cookup Tips

Poach the chicken and make the Tarragon Mayo; store in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, cut the salad ingredients and combine.

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