Friend inspires new salad recipe

Any kind of cooked chicken can be used to make Merry's Cold Chicken Pasta Salad.
Any kind of cooked chicken can be used to make Merry's Cold Chicken Pasta Salad.

My friend Merry DeSouza is a natural cook. She never uses a recipe and rarely measures, but puts together some amazing food. I’m lucky enough to be in a small group of women with her, where food and fellowship are among our purposes, so I get to sample her delicious dishes pretty regularly. Because I am a great note-taker and have a good memory for flavor, I often try to duplicate some of her wonderful dishes when I am experimenting in the kitchen.

Today’s recipe is one of those successes. Merry brought what she called a chicken macaroni salad to our group. It reminded me of a combination of chicken salad, macaroni salad, and potato salad dressing and fixings, minus the potatoes. I made a mental note that it was heavy on the black pepper and didn’t have too much pickle. Celery was present, too, but not overpowering. Merry used macaroni, but I wanted more of a pasta presence, so I choose gemini. I used leftover grilled chicken breasts, but any cooked chicken would be delicious. I decided to go almost half and half on the mayo and mustard to save a few calories, plus I love the flavor of Dijon mustard in my cold salads.

In just 20 minutes I had a new recipe. While it’s not exactly Merry’s, I’m giving her credit because her creativity inspired it. For those of us who need directions (like me!) and for whom measurements are helpful, I’ve broken it down into an easy-to-use, predictable recipe.

I hope you and your friends and family enjoy it as much as I do.

Contact Alicia Ross at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to Visit the Kitchen Scoop Web site at

Merry’s Cold Chicken Pasta Salad

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings as main, 6 servings as side dish

2 cups dry short pasta of choice, such as gemini or macaroni

1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and chopped

2/3 cup celery, chopped

3 tablespoons light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons diced sweet pickle

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup chicken, cooked, shredded, and chilled

Cook the pasta according to package directions. When al dente, rinse with cool water and drain well. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine egg, celery, mayonnaise, mustard, pickle, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder in a medium bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until pasta is ready.

When pasta is done, add the chicken and reserved pasta to the chilled “dressing” and toss well to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.

Approximate values per main serving: 296 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 76 mg cholesterol, 19.5 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 567 mg sodium.