Chicken and Macaroni Salad

A salad from my childhood days. So many ways to do it but, for me, it’s about the creamy texture without using too much mayo and the right blend of saltiness, sweetness, and tanginess. The chicken and macaroni salad I grew up with had lots of pineapple tidbits–which I hated. When I learned to prepare the salad myself, I ditched the pineapple altogether but that detracted from the overall taste of the dish. I realized that the contrast, the tang and sweetness of the pineapple, was wonderful for the otherwise plain salty dish. Still, I didn’t like the discernable pieces of pineapple in the salad. Fortunately, I discovered canned crushed pineapple.

Salad or elbow macaroni can be used. Or just about any shape for that matter. But do choose a pasta shape with lots of grooves to catch the dressing. Place the chicken, pickle relish, cheese, and drained pineapple in a large mixing bowl. Add half a cup of mayo, 1 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of pepper and 1 tsp. of sugar. Toss well. Add the macaroni and toss until everything is evenly distributed. It’s easier to see the distribution by adding the macaroni last.

Transfer to a container, cover, and chill for at least six hours.

Take out of the fridge and taste a piece of macaroni. At this time, the pasta would have absorbed the seasonings and the dressing. That’s the thing about macaroni salad. You can never tell if it’s “right” until it has chilled and the flavors have blended. Only then can you tell what needs to be adjusted. More salt? Sugar? Pepper? Does the salad look dry? Need to add more mayo? Adjust the seasonings and the dressing, put it back in the fridge, chill for another couple of hours and it’s ready to serve. Serving suggestion: Place a couple of lettuce leaves on a salad plate. Pile the salad on top. Garnish with toasted nuts.