Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Chicken Salad with Grapes

When I was a Junior in High School, I was hanging with a bunch of youth group friends at the Nagel's house--Gregg was a Junior, too, and Amanda was, I think, a freshman. Brad was still an annoying little punk. Now everybody is all grown up and married with families and careers and stuff--how time flies. It should take longer to get old.

Anyway, Gregg's mom, Shirley, is a very good cook. She had already introduced me to the wonderful world of Quesadillas, but on this particular day, she opened a much more significant door for me--the door to Chicken Salad.

It looked funny; it had chicken and celery, but also...grapes? And mayonnaise? Gross! Naturally, never having tasted any sort of chicken salad, I was skeptical, and curious why anyone would combine these ingredients, much less enjoy them. But I took some to be polite ('cause that's how my mama raised me), and I'm glad I did--it was a taste sensation. I'm pretty sure I went back for seconds and thirds, probably rearranging the remaining salad so it didn't look as if I had just eaten half of it. Which I had.

I didn't ask for the recipe, but over the years, I've developed two Chicken Salad recipes of my own. This particular recipe, while it's not Shirley's, at least channels her chicken-salad-making spirit. It's a very summery combination of chicken, celery, onions, seedless red grapes, and a tangy dressing. I hope you enjoy it as I did so many (many, many) years ago.

Chicken Salad with Grapes

3 c. diced cooked chicken
1/2 c. diced celery
1/4 c. minced onion
1 c. red seedless grapes, halved
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1-1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Paula Deen's House seasoning (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp. dried parsley

Combine the chicken, celery, onion, and grapes.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients, mixing well.

Thoroughly combine dressing with chicken mixture, and chill at least 1 hour before serving. Serve on bread or rolls as a sandwich or over greens for a lovely salad. Serves 4.

Paula Deen's House Seasoning

1 c. salt
1/4 c. ground black pepper
1/4 c. garlic powder

Mix well, and store in an airtight container. Useful for seasoning just about anything!


Anonymous said...

Be careful what you write! The internet is EVERYwhere. This is Shirley Nagel, maker of chicken salad with GRAPES! :) Gregg's wife, Allison, forwarded your post to me and I had a good chuckle reading about the old days. I am still a "foodie," of with 4 grandchildren and 1 on the way. (Amanda has 3 boys aged 4, 3, and 1, as well as a brand new baby girl; Brad (who has matured JUST a bit) and Sarah are expecting son #1 in Sept. Guess what I'm making for the shower this weekend? A chicken sald...but, an oriental one with candied almonds, mandarin oragnes, etc. I'm going out of town this coming week, but I'll leave a note to send you the recipe.

It was very fun to read your post!

Shirley Nagel

Gregg said...

I'm glad someone was enjoying it - I was always mortified that my mom insisted on preparing home-made food for youth group get-togethers. What a chump!


Now, I make my wife prepare chicken salad the way my mom did!

The Gammons Family said...

Great post Cori! We love Nagel food too.


Charis & Judah's Mom said...

Wow. I never in my wildest dreams expected to get a comment from THE Shirley Nagel! I'm nearly famous! (And, frankly, really really looking forward to the recipe...) Come to think of it, I always wondered why the food at the Nagel's was so fancy; yes, everyone else DID order pizza--I always wondered if Mrs. Nagel just had leftovers from a swanky party she had thrown, because SURELY no one would go through so much effort to feed a bunch of teenagers who thought nacho-flavored Combos were the height of cuisine. I guess now I know the truth. Gregg, sorry you were so mortified (we all were mortified by our parents back then, about something), but your mom's cooking ROCKS. Which I guess you know by now. And so does Andy!

Carmina said...

Been looking another variation for this dish and finally found it, i'll try this one.