While this salad hints at the classic recipe we’re all accustomed to, it perks it up with a tangy dressing, a vinegar pop in the form of pickled grapes, and a softer crunch from celery leaves. —Ashley Rodriguez
Place the grapes in a small jar and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, cinnamon stick, fennel, cardamom, and chile flakes. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
When all of the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat, then carefully pour the brine over the grapes. Refrigerate until cold.
At this point, you can either use the grapes right away or cover the jar with a lid and keep for up to 2 weeks. The longer they sit, the more pickled they become. Leftover grapes makes a great accompaniment to any cheese and charcuterie board and can be used in other salads.
For the salad:
For the dressing: Combine the crème fraîche, brine, and Dijon in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt to the bowl and whisk well. Taste and add more salt if needed. It will taste quite bright but will be toned down once it is mixed with the chicken.
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, celery, grapes, and tarragon. Toss this with the dressing and finish with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Leftover chicken salad is best served within 3 days.
BONUS: Turn your leftover pickle brine into a trendy shrub of sorts. Mix the brine with enough honey to suit your sweet needs, then add water. (I prefer about 1 part sweetened brine to 4 parts water but it’s quite puckering.) The brine, spiced with fennel, cinnamon, and cardamom, makes for a refreshing and very nutritious drink that's far less expensive than the bottled varieties.