Chicken & fruit salad is a staple of the Southern summer diet. When it was too hot to turn on a stove, anyone with the strength to rise from a chair would pick the bones from Sunday dinner’s roast chicken. Cold, diced chicken combined with chopped celery, salt, pepper, and mayonnaise made a better-than-decent supper.
Even though many of us live in air-conditioned homes, we still welcome chicken salad when the temperature ratchets into the high nineties or tops out past 100. To add zip, some folks toss in pecans (walnuts, if they’re north of the Mason-Dixon Line) and seedless grapes, either green or red.
Here’s a salad that’s a little more trouble, but well worth the extra time it takes to grate lemon peel, chop some green onion and open two cans of fruit.
2 ½ to 3 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
11-oz. can mandarin oranges
8-oz. can pineapple chunks
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
STEP BY STEP:
1. Combine chicken, celery, green onion, salt and lemon juice in a bowl and chill for several hours. Refrigerate canned fruit. If you’re in a hurry, forget chilling.
2. Grate lemon peel and set aside. Toast almonds for 3 to 8 minutes in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Just shake the pan to keep from burning. Set aside.
3. Just before serving, add drained fruit and almonds to chicken mixture.
4. Mix mayonnaise and lemon peel together and mix carefully into salad.
5. Serve immediately on a bed of lettuce.