Manchego Cheese Cups with Chunky Chicken Salad

If you love cheese and cool, fresh chicken salad, you’re in for a treat with this recipe – my favorite light and fresh lunch item, especially when the temperatures start to climb (it’s also a great accompaniment to a bowl of tomato soup, though, so it’s good any time).

The “cups” are formed by cheese that was melted in the oven, shaped over an upside-down muffin tin or over the bottom of a small, narrow drinking glass, and then allowed to cool and harden into artistically laced and cross-hatched little servers that will cradle the chicken salad. The slight saltiness of the cheese perfectly complements the savory chicken salad. Muah!

I’ve made these cups at separate times with two different cheeses: manchego (a delicious hard cheese made from sheep’s milk that is somewhat similar to parmesan in taste and texture) and parmesan. Each version is equally delicious, but I opt for the manchego because I’m allergic to dairy. The chicken salad recipe is a slightly more sophisticated – but still insanely simple — version of the one I conjured up in college. Because eggs are also off limits for me (*sigh*), I use a delicious avocado mayo instead of traditional (don’t let the green hue scare you off or have you thinking I’m pushing some Dr. Seuss-inspired spread – it tastes BETTER than traditional mayo, in my opinion, even if you aren’t a fan of plain avocados!). Regular mayo is also amazing in this recipe, so if you can eat eggs, knock yourself out and make the switch (I’m including recipes for both homemade versions below, although you can also use your favorite store-bought brand, of course).

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Manchego Cheese Cups with Chunky Chicken Salad
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Instructions
Manchego Cups Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 Degrees F.
  2. Freshly grate individual mounds of manchego cheese onto a silpat mat or non-stick baking sheet, (form a slightly mounded circle about the size of medium-size pancakes (4-5 inches in diameter)
  3. Bake cheese for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy (watch closely as it melts to avoid burning) TIP: If you remove the cheese from the oven too soon – before it turns golden grown and almost resembles crispy hash browns – you will end up with rubbery cheese that will appear greasy and not harden).
  4. Remove cheese from oven and use a very thin spatula to gently lift under the outside edges, working carefully inward toward the center of the cheese circle to maintain its shape.
  5. Promptly drape each cheese circle over the domes of an upside-down muffin tin (allow to cool completely). Note: I use mini muffin tins for appetizer-size cups, but you may use any size tin you wish. If using full-size muffin tins, more cheese will be needed).
  6. Once cheese cups are fully cooled, gently remove from the tin mold, using care to not break off the lovely lace-like edges.
  7. Fill each cheese cup with the chicken salad mixture and serve immediately.
Chicken Salad Directions
  1. Stir together chicken, tomatoes and onions – set aside
  2. Whisk together mayo, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper
  3. With a large spoon, scoop mayo mixture into chicken mixture and gently incorporate until chicken mix is fully coated
  4. Chill chicken salad in a covered bowl for at least one hour
  5. Scoop chilled chicken salad into cheese cups and garnish with optional sliver of baked cheese.
  6. Serve and enjoy on its own, or as an appetizer or side dish.
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2018-05-07T03:01:40+00:00

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