It’s that time of year again; that time when you pack up the car and head to your favorite football team’s stadium to tailgate in the parking lot before watching them defeat the opposing team in a triumphant home victory. Tailgating food does not have to be just plain blah and consist solely of prepackaged hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad. No no no. Tailgating is an opportunity to create unique treats for the whole crowd (regardless of whether they are cheering for the same team) that they will be talking about for a long time to come. What’s even more unique about the tailgating experience is that most folks tend to not sit down and eat a massive meal from a plate that is piled as high as the stadium itself but instead pick and choose small bites that they eat throughout the tailgate. Tailgating is not a sit down dinner at a fancy restaurant. It is a chance to play some yard games (albeit in a parking lot or field), chat with old friends and family, and get ready for that big game (over a good beer or two I suppose). Note: We do not encourage the consumption of cheap beer, i.e., any beer that contains the word “light” during the tailgate. Tailgating is an experience and so why not make it a memorable one by treating your crowd with some special flavors and foods that are bite-size, but packed with flavor?
Chicken salad is often prepared with boiled chicken pieces and mayonnaise (along with a few other ingredients that tend to differ between recipes). Occasionally, you will find a chicken salad that is prepared with oil and vinegar instead of mayonnaise, but this is rare and if you are buying prepackaged, store-bought chicken salad, chances are you will not be acquiring this variety. In fact, most store-bought chicken salads are more mayonnaise than anything else. I mean, if your guests want a heart attack before the game, just give each one a jar of mayonnaise and have them dig in. We do not want that though. Chicken salad does not have to be a dense blob of year-old mayonnaise mixed with a minuscule piece of scrap chicken meat and maybe, just maybe, a piece of a carrot or some celery. Chicken salad can be made in way that makes it quite light and fresh and packed with wholesome, nutritious foods as well as a ton of flavorful spices.
A great way to wow the crowd at your next tailgate is to prepare a curried chicken salad that you can spoon onto crostini and then layer with avocado, tomato, and some fresh whole milk mozzarella. The curried chicken salad is wholesome, thanks to the addition of cashews and grapes to the dish, and spicy since there is a good helping of curry mixed into the mayonnaise. Honestly, mayonnaise has very little flavor and so adding some herbs and/or spices to it will never hurt. Lastly, a slice of avocado, diced tomato, and mozzarella give the bites a smooth creamy texture that contrasts the crisp crostini. Better yet, the chicken salad and crostini can be prepared the day before so that on game day, all you need to do is scoop and serve. If you are careful, you can even cut the avocado the day before, just be sure to wrap the slices tightly in plastic wrap and store them in a sealed bag in the fridge.
We hope that this curried chicken salad with avocado on crostini pleases your crowd at your next tailgate!