Yerba Buena is a mint-like herb that grows rampant in the Southern Californian countryside. It’s not popular now, but back in the day — like, before the Spanish even showed up — it was used in native cuisine for its peppery, citrus flavor and menthol notes.
While scouring my vintage cookbooks, I came across a recipe for a Yerba Buena sauce in Helen Evans Brown’s West Coast Cuisine, and loved the sound of it. So, inspired by the minty, herbaceous flavors in this sauce (which humorously contains no Yerba Buena), I devised this fresh and light chicken salad. Using the herbaceous sauce as a base, I added yogurt and a bit of honey to add some depth. The whole thing is just lovely on some dense walnut bread.
Yerba Buena Chicken Salad Sandwich
3 single chicken breasts, poached and shredded
3/4 cups greek yogurt
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 loaf walnut bread, sliced
whole grain mustard
1 apple, sliced
Combine all of the ingredients for the chicken salad, and pop in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors come together. To serve, spread some mustard on slices of bread, top with a couple of apple slices, then add a scoop of chicken salad. Enjoy!
Images via Claire Thomas