By Charlotte Taylor / Photography by Lauren LaBoyteaux
Summer is finally in our sight. Gardens are in full swing and weddings are popping up left and right. It’s time for some simple summer livin’. More time spent outdoors and less time in the kitchen. We’re gonna start with a classic, summery, longtime favorite, chicken salad. Now, if you’re panicking because you saw grapes and mayo together, stick around, your taste buds will be glad you did. This is not just any chicken salad, it’s a three decade old recipe. The very same chicken salad that we served at The Tuttle House Tea Room back in the 1980’s (raise your hand if you ever had lunch there!).
We found this recipe in a ‘hot off the press’ ~ Southern Living cookbook (circa 1984). What a decade that was! Who knew that putting grapes into mayonnaise could be this delicious!
Serve this southern chicken salad on a croissant, with a side of potato chips or your favorite cup of soup. So fresh, hearty and dainty all at the same time.
- Red Seedless Grapes – most of an average size bag, sliced
- Celery – half of a bunch (ends and tops removed), diced
- Chicken – about 3-4 pounds, cooked and diced
- Miracle Whip – about 2 cups
- Nuts – about 1 cup, preferably pecans, chopped
WHAT TO DO:
- First of all, for a good chicken salad, make sure your chicken has some flavor. Whether you boil your own or buy a rotisserie version, flavor will make or break the deal. Next, if you are one that can only cook by measuring exactly and following precise instructions, then this my friend, will be a stretch for you. Hang in there!
- You can certainly increase or decrease this recipe easily to your liking. If you only need chicken salad for one or two? Chop up just the amount of chicken you will need and go from there. Add in as much celery and grapes as you’d like. Want less crunch? Go easy on the celery. Pull it all together with miracle whip. That’s why this recipe isn’t really measured. It’s fool proof and very flexible. Let loose in the kitchen and don’t be scared.
- Now, where were we? Grab a good size bowl and combine the diced chicken, diced celery, nuts, and the millions of grapes you sliced one by one. Mix in the miracle whip and stir well to combine. You’ll need less if using a rotisserie chicken, but if you cooked your own, the chicken will absorb more. The quantities above fed a family of six with a couple of leftover servings. Plan your batch accordingly.
Disclaimer: The nuts, as always, are optional, but the original Southern Living recipe called for cashews. My absolute favorite thing ever. Unless you eat this salad fairly quickly, the cashews become mushy and weird. At the tea room, we always used pecans, it kept well,
and it was magical. I do believe, with utmost sincerity, that every single person in our ginormous family loves this chicken salad. Truth! Oh, and for soup? Again, a Tuttle House Tea Room classic. So rich. So easy. You’ll never want tomato soup out of a can again! After eating this classic recipe, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to La Madeleine’s!
- 2 cans (28 oz) peeled whole tomatoes, pureed (or 8-10 fresh)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves, diced OR 1 tablespoon pesto
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 stick butter
- Salt / pepper to taste
WHAT TO DO:
- Combine tomatoes, juice, and stock in a medium sauce pan. Simmer 30 minutes. In the meantime, roll up your basil leaves and give them a good chopping (Or spoon in some good pesto). Turn heat to low and add cream and butter. Check for seasoning and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Great for a grab and go lunch or a picnic in the park.
- How ‘bout adding another classic to the meal with a chocolate chip cookie? Sturdy enough to turn into an ice cream sandwich or fill with buttercream like those sugar-licious versions sold at the mall! Holy schmoly!
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cup shortening
- 2 eggs
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips
WHAT TO DO:
- Preheat oven to 325. In the bowl of a mixer, combine sugars and shortening until well mixed. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well, then toss in vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with non- stick spray. Scoop up cookie dough with a large tablespoon or ice cream scoop and drop the golf ball size mounds onto the baking sheet leaving four or so inches between each one. We alternated our rows and could only fit 8 per baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until golden around the edges. Remove cookies from oven and immediately drop pan onto counter to deflate cookies. This is a good thing. Let the cookies sit for a couple of minutes without touching them. Remove them onto a cooling rack and repeat until all dough is used. Store in an airtight container.
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen large cookies
These classic family recipes are a great way to enjoy the taste of summer. They are superb all together or divided up into separate meals. Perfectly as good on the go as they are for a dainty ladies tea. I hope you’ll try them all! Happy summer-ing. ENJOY!