Every Southern lady has a recipe in her arsenal that's guaranteed to please. It's nothing fancy, easy to put together, yet it always wows a crowd. This chicken and wild rice salad is my go-to dish. Before that it was my mother's, passed along to her by her best friend.
I started making this simple salad in college, where I wowed a few friends with my culinary prowess (it's amazing how delusional hungry college students can get.). The recipe followed me out to Los Angeles, where I served it to a potential beau. Three years later he still requests this recipe more than any other. That should tell you just how good it is!
This one-dish meal really is the little black dress of salads. It can be eaten hot or cold, although I prefer hot. If it's for dinner, pair it with a side salad and a crisp white wine. For a nice ladies lunch, pile it on a bed of lettuce or stuff it in a croissant. You just can't get much easier than that.
And yes, I haven't missed that it's Vegan Week here at The Kitchn. I confess that my explorations in vegan cooking are still in the beginning stages, but I do know that this recipe adapts well to a vegan diet!
To make this recipe vegan:
• Substitute 3 cups diced marinated and baked tofu for the chicken (see instructions here for delicious baked tofu) and 1/2 cup Vegenaise or eggless mayonnaise (see two recipes here) for the regular mayonnaise.
I have not made the vegan version of this dish, but I'd love to hear about it if you do. Anything else you would change or adapt?
Do you have a go-to recipe that never fails? If so, please share it with me.
Chicken (or Tofu!) & Wild Rice Salad
Serves 6 to 8
(6-ounce) box wild rice (I prefer Uncle Ben's Original Recipe)
cooked and shredded chicken (a rotisserie bird works perfectly)
green grapes, cut into quarters or eighths depending on size
sliced almonds, toasted
light mayonnaise (or more or less to taste)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Cook wild rice according to package directions, erring on the side of al dente (this should not be a mushy salad).
Mix cooked rice, shredded chicken, grapes, almonds, and mayonnaise together in a large bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper, adjusting ingredients to taste. (If you use a fresh rotisserie bird and just cooked rice, the dish will be ready to serve warm, or chill if desired.)
(Images: Nealey Dozier)