For a last minute salad, buy a cooked bird

Sometimes the best way to change the way you cook is to not cook at all.

For some weeknight meals, we pick up a baked roast chicken from the supermarket, allowing us to focus on loading up the shredded meat with flavor. It’s a trick we use for this impromptu chicken salad from our “COOKish” book, which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavor. And it’s the perfect last-minute thing to whip up before that Labor Day BBQ without having to fire up the oven on a hot summer day.

For this recipe, we’re skipping the mayonnaise and instead using another shortcut that packs complex flavor into one ingredient: red pepper jelly. The slight bitterness and the vegetable quality of the peppers make it possible to balance the sugars.

Two tablespoons of white vinegar will thin the dressing, and thinly sliced ​​scallions or red onions contribute to a strong sting. And canned black-eyed peas are an easy way to add substance. We let the beans soak in the dressing for 10 minutes so they absorb more flavor, which also gives the chicken time to shred.

A store-bought medium-sized rotisserie bird will yield enough shredded chicken for this recipe.

The salad is especially good over leafy greens or served with a piece of cornbread. And everything is done and ready to serve in less than 30 minutes.

Chicken and Bean Salad with Pepper Jelly Dressing

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced ​​or ½ red onion, thinly sliced

⅓ cup red pepper jelly

2 tablespoons white vinegar or hot sauce

2 tablespoons of neutral oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

15 ½ ounce can black-eyed peas or kidney beans or black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

Mix the green onions, jelly, vinegar, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the beans, stir and let stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken, then season with salt and pepper.

For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at

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