Chicken and Radicchio Salad with Pickled Raisins and Walnuts

September 30, 2010
6 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Chicken, radicchio, pickled raisins, and walnuts is one of those rare combinations of ingredients that adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts. This salad has seen several incarnations, each attempt really just served as an excuse to consume big bowls of "crunchiness" for dinner each night after night. The first involved the often hard-to-find Deglet Noor dates, which I pitted, julienned, and used in place of the raisins in the recipe below (if you have access to good fresh dates, I highly recommend this!). I tried it with feta and without (on the notion that everything tastes better with feta). I tossed some almonds out and some walnuts in. Each time I’ve composed this delicious dish, I increased the amount of fresh herbs -- sprinklings turned into handfuls of torn mint, parsley, and cilantro, until eventually they were a substantial part of the composition, rather than mere background colors. —Michelle McKenzie

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Michelle McKenzie is a professional chef from San Francisco.
WHAT: A sweet and bitter salad for a brown bag lunch or a quick and satisfying weekday meal.
HOW: Make a simple vinaigrette out of Meyer lemon juice, shallots, and extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Add the meat from two roasted chicken breasts, pulled into bite-sized pieces, radicchio, and generous handfuls of torn parsley, cilantro, and mint. Toss with lightly-roasted chopped walnuts and raisins, pickled in a honey vinegar mixture for garnish.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The pickled raisins in this salad are revelatory -- sour, plump, and sweet -- and even better when tossed with the juicy chicken, toasty walnuts, radicchio, and herbs. The only alteration we made was to add more lemon juice to this nearly-perfect salad. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the salad:
  • 2 chicken breasts, preferably bone-in with skin
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 1/2 lemon, preferably Meyer
  • 2 medium shallots, finely diced
  • 2 small heads radicchio, Chioggia, or Treviso, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pickled raisins (see recipe below)
  • 1 handful parsley, torn
  • 1 handful cilantro, torn
  • 1 handful mint, torn
  • For the pickled raisins:
  • 1 1/2 cups golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  1. For the salad:
  2. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Rub each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and just cooked through. Remove chicken from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Pull the meat apart into large bite-sized pieces and set aside. (Note: Cooking time on chicken breasts will vary. If you are using bone-in breasts with skin, for instance, they will cook faster; start checking after 20 minutes.)
  3. While the chicken cooks, spread walnuts on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Roughly chop walnuts, toss with walnut oil and a pinch of sea salt, and set aside. (My husband refers to my method of tossing walnuts in walnut oil as "cheating," but never complains as he eats them straight out of the bowl on my chopping block -- they are so good!)
  4. Add the zest and juice of the lemon to a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of freshly cracked pepper, and the diced shallot. Allow the shallot to marinate in the juice for 5 minutes. Add the remaining olive oil in a slow and steady stream while whisking constantly.
  5. Add the chicken, walnuts, radicchio, raisins, herbs, and a large pinch of salt to the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  1. For the pickled raisins:
  2. Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let the mixture cool completely, then add the entire mixture to an airtight container. Refrigerate raisins in the pickling liquid for up to 3 days; strain before using.
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Michelle McKenzie is the author of Dandelion & Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs. Her second cookbook, The Modern Larder, is due to arrive in fall 2018 and will introduce home-cooks to a raft of new, flavor-packed pantry staples - e.g. shiso, ndjua, Job's Tears, and dozens of others - and incorporate them into over 200 wholesome recipes.

11 Reviews

Megan C. October 2, 2021
Thank you, Michelle McKenzie for a delightfully delicious dinner salad! We started a “30 Salads in 30 Days” Challenge, and this was Day One salad for us! What an inspiration for us to continue our journey into more healthful eating! Seriously. So yummy!
Céline L. April 27, 2021
It is a very original recipe that I really like. Your photos make you want. I really like these associations
of flavors, very tasty😋😋
eatchimac March 30, 2021
Oh, I didn’t try Chicken and Radicchio Salad with Pickled Raisins and Walnuts Recipe. Now I can make it at home. So glad for sharing this recipe Now I can make it at home. It looks delicious. Now I can share your blog with my friend circle. I am so glad after seeing your recipe, Thanks for sharing this recipe. Food is one of the biggest topics of conversation online and offline. Keep it up, I am waiting for your next recipe!
eluu February 23, 2021
Such a delicious salad though I wish I soaked the radicchio in water prior to assembling as another reviewer suggested. I had a pear so I added that to the salad to add more sweetness and contrast to the bitter radicchio.
sterbamann February 1, 2021
I loved all the elements of this salad -the slightly bitter radicchio, sweet-sour raisins, citrusy dressing, and umami from the nuts. The pickled raisins are a revelation. I soak my radicchio in water for 15 min to remove some of the bitterness.
Hodges November 17, 2020
This salad was excellent. My only issue is the directions indicate incorporating lemon zest, which is not accounted for in the list of ingredients. So I used the zest and juice of one whole meyer lemon and it was great. Actually, the beauty of this salad is that you can make it as is or you can play around with the amounts and its still special. ;-)
susan T. February 19, 2020
This salad is delicious! I love the pickled raisins and can see myself using those in a lot of other dishes too. thank you for this recipe. I even omitted chicken once and didn't miss it - and instead added just a little fresh goat cheese. This salad has a wonderful combination of flavors and textures and very nice citrus.
Constrained C. September 30, 2010
This is such a beautiful dish. I love the idea of pickled raisins, too. Must try this myself :)
Michelle M. September 30, 2010
tiptoesinthekitchen :: Thank you! I was just salivating over your root vegetables with citrus and thyme.

Sagegreen :: Those pickled raisins have so many wonderful applications: in a relish with green olives + herbs (perfect for grilled chicken or fish); tossed with roasted cauliflower, pine nuts and chile de arbol; with braised bitter greens; the list goes on. Enjoy!
tiptoesinthekitchen September 30, 2010
what an awesome combination of things!
Sagegreen September 30, 2010
Love your pickled raisins! This looks wonderful.