When it comes to a quick way to feed a crowd, this is one of my go-to recipes. I clearly remember the first time I ate it, in 2001 at my daughter’s bridal shower. The shower was hosted by Cora, who lived around the corner from us and was our unofficially adopted grandmother. She stood about five-foot nothing, with stooped shoulders, neatly coifed white hair framing her kind face. She always had a treat and a kind word for my children. Her house was decorated circa 1970-something with shag carpet, ornate curtains with large tie-backs, and furniture topped with doilies and decorative pieces. However, the couches and chairs were comfortable and the welcome was always warm, and I loved to visit, as it made me miss my own grandmothers less. Her chicken salad recipe (pictured in her beautiful handwriting) has made its appearance at family gatherings through the years (as evidenced by the condition of the recipe card), for a wedding reception, for book group, for summer picnics, and most recently as part of the spread for a house concert I hosted, featuring Chrome Street, a musical duo/trio/quartet grounded by my son, Jason, and daughter-in-law, Nicole, who describe their enterprise like this, “Chrome Street displays mad skills playing originals and covers. Their unique instrument combination of oboe, violin, guitar, and cello makes for a beautiful and awesome listening experience.” Agreed, particularly when you’re enjoying chicken salad at the same time. Who knew that such a simple dish could be a big part of bringing friends and family together; yet it does, admirably. Cora, in the way of life, had to move from her home due to incidents with aging, and passed away several years ago; yet, I never make or eat this chicken salad without remembering her fondly.
1 box of Rice-a-Roni with almonds – or add 1/2 c. slivered almonds (prepare according to box directions and chill)
1 – 2 cups diced celery
1/4 cup chopped green onion
4 chicken breasts cooked and diced
1 c. diced green pepper (optional)
1 c. water chestnuts (optional)
1 c. mayo or Miracle Whip
Mix all ingredients together and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Serve the chicken salad on croissants, rolls, crackers, or chips. For a big group (30 plus) double the recipe.