Traveling the world through cuisine

The Other Side of the Deli

Deli Salads

Practically any deli in the world is usually divided into two halves.  One half of course being the deli meats and cheeses, in flavors depending on the ethnic origin of the delicatessen.  The other half are the prepared foods, and amongst this cornucopia of delicacies has been the mainstay of the deli salad.

Most of the different deli salads have origins in other parts of the world, but outside of potato salad, much of their evolution and favor has come in the United States.  Chicken salad and tuna salad have been American traditions since the late 1800s, with a small deli in Rhode Island being noted as the first establishment to sell what we know today as chicken salad.

Chicken and tuna salad aren’t really complex dishes to make.  Just mix your choice of meat with mayonnaise and dill relish or celery.  While both salads are quite tasty in their native forms, they can get boring after a while.  It wasn’t until I strolled into a local Italian deli here in Chicago that I was enticed by a Mediterranean Tuna Salad.  I’ll admit it was different, and delicious.  From that point I went on my own quest to find better ways to prepare these two deli salads.

For the Mediterranean Tuna Salad, I took what I observed in the salad I saw at the deli and improvised the rest.  Artichokes and roasted red peppers add a new flavor to the dish, with dill and lemon pepper complementing the tuna.  Here’s what I did:

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 (5 ounce) cans of tuna
  • 6-7 ounces of roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 6-7 ounces of artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 heaping tbsp of mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 2 heaping tbsp of dill relish
  • 1 tsp of granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp of lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp of dill
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, then store in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Quick Notes

Be sure to drain the tuna if you go with canned tuna. Open the cans and use the top to compress the meat inside a bit to get the liquid out. You should do it over the sink to avoid a mess.

Be sure to use dill relish. I would not recommend sweet relish because it will add a funny taste to the whole salad.

Variations

The deli where I first saw this salad also put chopped kalamata olives in their tuna salad, but I withheld and prefer them on the side.

I try to keep things healthy and use fat-free mayonnaise. Feel free to use whatever mayonnaise or salad dressing you prefer.

Healthy It Up

Lowfat or fat free mayonaise will work well, but you could even use Greek yogurt.

When it comes to chicken salad, you have plenty of possibilities to play with. I’ve tried integrating barbecue sauce into the salad, as well as Asian flavors, and of course Mediterranean flavors. One of the best ideas online was for a Parmesan Ranch Chicken Salad, but the recipes I came across came up a bit salty and sometimes liquid due to using both mayonnaise and ranch dressing. My own fix was to instead create a ranch dressing seasoning mix and withhold the salt, as well as use less Parmesan cheese. The final result was more what I desired.

Parmesan Ranch Chicken Salad

Parmesan Ranch Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 18-20 ounces of chicken, chopped into small bits
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 heaping tbsp of mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp of parsley
  • 1 tsp of granulated garlic
  • 3/4 tsp of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp of thyme
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, then store in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Quick Notes

Be sure to drain the chicken if you go with canned chicken. Open the cans and use the top to compress the meat inside a bit to get the liquid out. You should do it over the sink to avoid a mess.

I did not use any relish in this salad because it made for a strange taste. Dill or sweet relish doesn’t meld well with the other flavors, so I’d advice no relish here.

Variations

I try to keep things healthy and use fat-free mayonnaise. Feel free to use whatever mayonnaise or salad dressing you prefer.

Healthy It Up

Lowfat or fat free mayonaise will work well, but you could even use Greek yogurt.

Tags: chicken, deli, salad, tuna

comments powered by Disqus