This Mango Chicken Salad will deceive. It looks simple enough… some chicken, some greens, some fresh mango. But the flavors are actually really interesting due to an intense curried mango dressing that is almost hiding deep down in the greens.
For my money, this is a fantastic light spring dinner which is why I had it bookmarked when mango won the poll last week. Betsy and I had this as a meal and it was perfect, but you could also serve it as a side salad.
If you can find jarred mango chutney in the store, this salad becomes a 15 minute meal, but it’s also not hard to whip up a quick homemade chutney which is what I did for my dressing.
1) If you are making your own chutney, just combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, mashing lightly, until the mixture is thick, stirring regularly, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.
2) Combine the dressing ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until well combined. Some chunks are okay.
3) You can use any chicken for this, but if you are using fresh chicken, season it well with salt and pepper and sear it in a skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil until it's cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. I find it helpful to butterfly my breasts in half so they cook evenly.
4) Add arugula to a medium bowl and toss with about half of the dressing. It should be very lightly dressed.
5) Divide arugula between plates an top with sliced chicken, fresh mango slices, a dollop of yogurt, and cumin seeds. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
Recipe adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.
Mango Chicken Salad
The dressing completely makes this Mango Chicken Salad. The salad is boring without it so don’t skip it! Then you would just have some sad chicken on some greens. Take the time to make the dressing and you’ll be well rewarded.
As I mentioned above, if you happen to be able to find mango chutney in your store, go ahead and just buy it and skip this step if you want. Pataks Hot Mango Chutney is my favorite brand but it’s kind of hard to find sometimes.
If you want to make a quick chutney though that works great in this dressing, you’ll just need these things.
A quick reminder for those that aren’t used to prepping mango, there are really two ways to prep it. Either way, you need to slice off the sides of the mango which is where most of the meat of the fruit is. The seed is a large oblong seed so you can slice carefully down the side of it and you’ll be left with two big halves of fruit.
Then you can slice the mango like an avocado (what I did for the finished salad) or use your knife to make a grid in the mango and then flip it inside out. This makes it easy to scrape the fruit off the skin. I used this method for the chutney since it was going to cook down.
The chutney is really easy since you don’t need a bunch of it. Just combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Stir it regularly as it cooks and mash the mango lightly as it heats. After about 10 minutes it should start to thicken nicely.
Then you can kill the heat and let it cool.
Traditionally a chutney would need to simmer for hours but since we are just pureeing it with other stuff for a dressing, we can get away with a quick cook time.
Once your chutney is cooled, add about half of it to a small food processor along with the other dressing ingredients. A tablespoon of curry powder is not a typo!
Pulse this all together until smooth. If it is really thick, add a tablespoon or two of water to thin it slightly.
When you are ready to make the salads, just add a few spoonfuls of this dressing to a large bowl with all of your arugula. Toss this together to very lightly coat the arugula in the dressing. You should barely be able to see the dressing on the greens.
You can always serve extra dressing on the side.
This Mango Chicken Salad recipe is good with any chicken really. You can use leftover chicken, roasted chicken, poached chicken, grilled chicken… you get the idea. If you want to go the veggie route, I would use tempeh and pan fry it a bit until it’s lightly crispy.
For this version, I just butterflied two chicken breasts, seasoned them with salt and pepper and seared them over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes per side. That was just enough to cook them through.
I like to butterfly them because I find that they cook more evenly that way.
Once your chicken is cooked (however you cook it) just roughly slice it up.
Making the Salad
This salad is great as a meal or as an appetizer. Either way, once your greens are dressed, just divide them between however many servings you are making. For a main this recipe will feed 3-4 people or probably 6 as a side dish.
Once the greens are on the plate, just add some chicken, a few slices of fresh mango, and a spoonful of yogurt. Sprinkle some cumin seeds over the salad and you are all set!
As a little extra touch, I recommend toasting the cumin seeds for a few minutes over low heat in a small skillet. It just helps to bring out some of their flavors.
If you can get your hands one some fresh mango, make this sooner rather than later. It’s healthy and surprisingly flavorful!