Obviously we can’t travel to Hawaii right now, and most of us aren’t fortunate enough to live there (I’m thinking of you, Tracy). But we can mentally escape and eat Hawaiian-inspired food! This Hawaiian chicken salad gets its name from the pineapple and macadamia nuts. Yum! It is bursting with a lot of flavor, and unlike most chicken salads, there is no celery!!! Woohoo!
Whenever I go to Costco, I buy a rotisserie chicken. From chicken salad to chicken pot pie to taquitos to risotto, there are unlimited options for a quick(er) dinner prep night using a rotisserie chicken. I have mint growing and ginger is good at boosting immunity, so this was my meal of choice for our most recent chicken. It has bacon, so I knew the kids would be happy with it. I love when one of my kids’ eyes light up after taking a bite of something I made, which is exactly what our oldest did. Along with a, “This is sooo good.” Sometimes I have a heavy hand with the herbs and the response is not the same. This time I did measure them out, and the balance was perfect.
You will notice the recipe calls for spinach tossed with a Honey-Lime Vinaigrette. There was no spinach at the store the last time I went, so our sandwiches were without. If you do have spinach on hand, you can toss it with the vinaigrette or not. It’s a toss-up for me since there’s already so much flavor in the chicken salad. I usually do it, since I’m a recipe rule-follower, but I’m wondering if we enjoyed the sandwich more without it. I included a recipe for an Avocado-Cantaloupe salad you can serve on the side with the rest of the vinaigrette.
The instructions are pretty straight-forward, beyond the hollowing out of the baguettes. I can never waste bread, so I just put the bread that I scooped out into a bowl and disappears at the dinner table. You could also make croutons with it. Do watch the baguettes as you broil them. They char quickly, so I’ve learned to stand in front of the oven after they’ve been in it for two minutes.
Here’s to mentally transporting from inside our homes to Hawaii!
Hawaiian Chicken Salad
- 5 strips bacon, diced
- 1 ½ baguettes
- ⅓ cup olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ¼ cups fresh cilantro leaves, packed
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves, packed
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
- ½ lime, juiced
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 3 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
- ½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 tbsp Honey-Lime Vinaigrette (recipe below), optional
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
- 1 tbsp jalapeño, minced, optional
- 1-2 tbsp minced red bell pepper
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Optional Cantaloupe-Avocado Side Salad
- ½ cantaloupe, seeded, peeled, and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into bite-sized chunks
- ¼ cup shallots, thinly sliced
- remaining Honey-Lime Vinaigrette
Preheat broiler to High with rack 6-inches from the heating element (top of the oven).
Sauté diced bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8-10 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Slice top ⅓ off the baguettes and remove most of the bread inside. Cut the whole baguette into 4 equal portions and the remaining half baguette into 2 portions. Brush each piece with 1 tbsp oil, season with salt and pepper, and broil on a baking sheet until toasted, 2-3 minutes. Watch closely because they burn quickly. I have charred many a baguette by my multi-tasking.
(Full disclosure: I just broil my baguettes without the olive oil and salt and pepper. I also broiled the them before cutting them, though I highly recommend cutting them and then broiling).
Mince cilantro, mint, ginger, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Add mayonnaise and yogurt; pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste (maybe ¼-ish tsp?).
Mix chicken, bacon, and nuts with pesto in a bowl and set aside. Toss spinach with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette, if desired; stir pineapple and jalapeño (if using) together in a bowl.
To assemble sandwiches, divide spinach between baguettes, then top each with 1/2 cup chicken salad. Divide pineapple between the sandwiches and garnish with bell pepper.
Whisk lime juice, honey, oil, and a pinch of both salt and pepper together.
For the remaining vinaigrette, you can make a cantaloupe-avocado salad: cut half of a cantaloupe into bite-sized pieces. Slice two avocados into bite-sized chunks. Place in a bowl together, sprinkle with ¼ cup thinly sliced shallots, then drizzle with vinaigrette.