MACARONI SALAD WITH CHICKEN AND APPLES
- 3 cups diced or bite-size pieces cooked boneless chicken breasts (see note)
- 1 (8-ounce) package elbow or shell macaroni
- Boiling water as needed
- 2 to 3 crisp apples, unpeeled, core and seeds removed, and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup diced celery
- ½ cup sliced pitted black/ripe olives, well drained
- ½ cup toasted sliced almonds (see note)
- 1 cup mayonnaise or reduced-fat mayonnaise
- ¼ cup heavy cream (see note)
- Few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
- Salt, freshly ground black or white pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
- Crisp leaf lettuce as desired
- Paprika and additional toasted sliced almonds (see note) for garnish
Cook chicken (see note), allow to cool, and dice or cut into bite-size pieces; set aside.
Cook macaroni in boiling water according to package directions; drain thoroughly and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, combine cooked chicken pieces, cooked macaroni, apples, celery, olives, and ½ cup toasted sliced almonds. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, cream, and lemon juice, if desired, blending well with a wire whisk. Season dressing with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste, blending well. Pour dressing over chicken/macaroni mixture, mixing gently but well. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
To serve, line a large serving bowl or individual plates with crisp leaf lettuce. Spoon chilled chicken/macaroni mixture into the lettuce-lined bowl or divide onto the individual plates. Garnish
with a sprinkle of paprika and additional toasted sliced almonds.
Note: About 2 to 2¼ pounds uncooked boneless chicken breasts provides 3 cups diced/bite-size pieces cooked chicken. To cook chicken, place chicken breast pieces in a medium heavy saucepan; add enough water to cover chicken pieces. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and continue simmering, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until chicken is fork tender. Cool thoroughly before cutting into bite-size pieces.
Note: To toast almonds, arrange nuts in one layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated slow oven (300 degrees F.) for about 8 minutes or until almonds are a light ivory color.
Note: May omit heavy cream, if desired; use ¼ cup half-and-half or milk or reduced-fat milk. However, the flavor will not be as rich and the consistency not as thick