We all have a favorite auntie. She is the aunt whose house is a home away from home. My favorite aunt cooked the best Macaroni Chicken Salad with Pineapple. She was happy to welcome us at her home anytime. And always, in her kitchen, there were pots brimming with her specialties boiling briskly on the stove top, as though she knew you were coming.
I thought of my dear aunt as I mixed this Macaroni Chicken Salad with Pineapple. During our Besa family reunions in Manila, we often came together at the home of our Tita Pat (‘Tita’ is another word for ‘aunt’ in the Philippines, derived from Spanish) and enjoyed the big spread of family favorites she prepared : binagis (spicy ground beef appetizers flavored with limes), fresh vegetable lumpia with peanut sauce, sweet spaghetti Filipino-style, Tita Pat’s leche flan and a sweet macaroni salad like this one.
We never got to ask our aunts about their recipes or dish specialties. Often when I look back I regret not asking for their recipe technique or cooking tips. We loved our aunties and as children, we took their presence for granted, thinking they would always be around and we could go back to enjoy their prized dishes any time. But life happens, we all grow up and much to our regret, the elder relatives pass away.
There’s one thing I remember though. I can still savor the sharp sweetness in my aunt’s salad. I can taste the tender boiled chicken bits, the crunchy relish, the savory mayonnaise dressing that coated the firm, supple elbow macaroni noodles. There were sweet yet savory flavors in a pasta salad that could double up as a side dish or a meal on its own. It was sheer comfort to know we could pair the macaroni salad with char-grilled barbecue chicken or pork skewers, Filipino-style.
The best memory I remember was Tita Pat’s smile, beckoning to us, eager to feed us all and her saying out loud “Mangan, mangan, mangan (say ‘mang -gnang ‘)!” In the Pampango dialect, ‘mangan’ translates to ‘eat, eat, eat’!
Macaroni Chicken Salad with Pineapple
- 1/2 pound cooked chicken, roasted or boiled chopped, about 1 and 1/2 cups
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni pasta about 1 1/2 cup if uncooked
- 3/4 cup pineapple chunks or tidbits canned, drained
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- Prepare chicken salad. In a large bowl, combine the boiled chicken chunks, celery, onion, sweet pickle relish, raisins. Mix in the mayonnaise and sour cream. Blend well. Cover and refrigerate till ready to use.
- Separately, boil elbow macaroni pasta in a large stock pot. Cook for about 11 minutes or till pasta is al dente. Remove pasta from stove top. Drain and cool pasta on counter for about 12 minutes.
- Once pasta has cooled thoroughly, add the chicken salad dressing. Blend well. Season with salt and white pepper. Add the pineapple chunks. Cover salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate till ready to serve.
- Cook's comments: Dishes with mayonnaise dressings should not be left outdoors under the sun for prolonged periods of time (no longer than an hour). When serving this salad outdoors, keep refrigerated then serve and pass around during the meal. Cover and keep refrigerated again till guests ask for more.
- Recipe tip: Sometimes I use leftover roast chicken. I chop up the meat to yield about one and one half cup. If you do not have leftover cooked chicken, boil one half pound boneless chicken breast in 2 cups soup stock (or water), with a stalk of chopped celery, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Cook for about 40 minutes in a medium stock pot, over medium heat or till cooked thoroughly. No pink uncooked parts should be seen. When cooked, drain and chop cooked chicken breast. You should have about a cup and a half of cooked chicken.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe?I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. I also have more classic recipes inspired by my mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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