This is an adaptation of a smoked chicken salad recipe sent to me by Mary Collette List of Kalamazoo, Michigan—a frequent visitor to my Web site—who tasted it for the first time at a friend’s potluck dinner and then went home and figured it out. I added the option of using smoked turkey instead of smoked chicken. (Smoked turkey is more readily available.) I also decided to make the pecans spicy by tossing them in my Creole Spice Mix and then toasting them. Overall, a lot of nice textures and flavors come together here—and most of the ingredients are already prepared at the supermarket.
Total preparation time: 25 minutes
1/4 cup bottled or homemade vinaigrette
Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken, if there is any, and cut the meat into 3/4-inch cubes. Toss the chicken, pecans, and olives with the mayonnaise mixture until completely coated.
To serve, toss the mesclun with the vinaigrette and divide among 4 chilled serving plates. Place the chicken salad on the mesclun and serve.
Creole Spice Mix: Mix 4 teaspoons hot paprika, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 1/2 cup.