2 for 1… Tita Mae’s chicken Macaroni salad is here & there’s a vegan alternative!
The holidays came and went, but I’m not quite ready to let go HAHA!? Are you!?
This chicken macaroni salad is one that we usually have during the holiday season. This salad was one of my favorite memories of when I met hubby’s mom for the first time. That’s right hubs introduced me to his family on Christmas!! Already very timid, add meeting the parents on such an important day, I was a mess and quite nervous! I was hoping the nerves would calm down just enough for me to eat. As a guest in a Filipino home, food is EVERYTHING… so not eating is a MAJORRR NO NO! Anywho, my nerves did finally calm, and when they did I couldn’t stop eating, but it was this salad that kept me coming back for seconds and then thirds!
Sooo it’s just a macaroni salad!?
NO! This isn’t your average chicken macaroni salad! This recipe is sweet, slightly tangy, and full of flavor and spices. It’s simple and you most likely have all of the ingredients in your fridge or pantry. Kids love this salad just as much as the adults do so it’s a WIN-WIN!
For years I asked hubs mom for the recipe and when we moved to London, she finally gave it to me for our first Christmas abroad!!
Although this salad is tied to the holiday season, we love it so much that we incorporated it into our rotation of meal prep dishes. It’s super easy to make, lasts for a few days in the fridge, it’s a meal on its own, and it’s delicious! Plus if you’re not ready to let go of the holidays, then this makes a perfect segway for January meals!
IT GETS BETTER… If you’re participating in Veganuary then this is still the perfect meal for you as I’ve included directions on how to make it 100% vegan.
Mom, Tita Mae for you =) gave me permission to share this recipe and I couldn’t be more excited. I gave this chicken macaroni salad a little sazon and added some HISPANIC-ISH flare, with permission of course. And now it’s ready for its debut…
How can I make it vegan?
If you’ve had a look at the ingredients in this chicken macaroni salad, you would’ve noticed that all of the ingredients are vegan with the exception of the chicken breast. Now, if you wanted to just leave out the chicken breast and continue with the recipe you can certainly do that!
However, I do have a delicious vegan CHIKIN hack that will leave you better satisfied. To make vegan chikin I use green jackfruit. You can easily find it at your local Asian grocery, Amazon, and at most health food stores.
Before you cook the jackfruit prep it by giving it a good rinse and removing the core and seeds. What you’re left with should look like pulled chicken/pork. Saute the jackfruit with some spices (all listed below). Then use this vegan chikin as your chicken alternative, continue with the recipe as follows and TAADAA you’ll have a delicious VEGAN CHIKIN MACARONI SALAD! IT’s that easy!
How should I eat it?
This one is important! You should always serve this salad cold. NEVERRRR heat it. It’s also at its tastiest when it’s made the night before it’s served. However, if you’re a bit short on time, 3-4 hours will do. You need to give the macaroni salad time to soak in all of the flavors.
This chicken macaroni salad is fantastic to make and leave in the fridge for meal prep. You may want to give it a good sniff if it’s still in the fridge by day 5, although I doubt it’ll make it till then.
If you want to add a bit of crunch make some tostones and have them on the side.
Or why not make it a feast… Pair with some vegan chicharrón de Pollo and some Arroz y habichuelas con coco for the ultimate feast! If you use the vegan chikin hack for your salad your feast will be 100% vegan!
Tita Mae's easy chicken macaroni salad...with a CHIKIN vegan option
- Large pot
- Large Bowl
- tofu press
- mortar and pestle
- 500 G Macaroni pasta (Any spiral pasta will work well)
- 2 Chicken breast Or 1 can of green jackfruit (Sauteed shredded jackfruit for a vegan option, check the notes section for directions)
- 1 Peeled red onion (All onions work well)
- 2 Peeled garlic cloves
- ½ TSP Granulated garlic
- ½ TSP Oregano
- ½ TSP Onion powder
- 2 MEDIUM Peeled carrots
- ¼ CUP Sultanas (Raisins work well)
- 2 TBSP Finely chopped gherkins (Sweet pickles work well)
- 2 TSP White caster sugar (Granulated sugar works well)
- ½ CUP Pineapple chunks
- 270 G Vegan mayonnaise (Any mayonnaise works well)
- Before you start, prep the pineapple chunks. You want to get as much of the liquid out as possible. Use a tofu press to help drain them. Pat dry afterward.If you do not have a tofu press, place the pineapple chunks on a clean cloth and ring out as much of the water as possible. Pat dry afterward.You can also leave them to drain and dry overnight on paper towels. Set aside.
- Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the packaging, remembering to generously salt the water. Add 3 minutes to the time suggested. You want your pasta to be very tender and slightly overcooked. Drain and set aside.
- Next, add the chicken breast, onion, garlic, granulated garlic, oregano, onion powder, carrots, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Add water, enough to cover the ingredients completely. Boil until the chicken is fully cooked. About 15 minutes.If you're having this salad vegan, scroll down to the notes section for instructions =)
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. Continue to cook the carrots until they are tender. About another 5 minutes. Once tender set the carrots aside to cool and chop into small pieces.
- Drain the stock and set it aside.Using your mortar and pestle, grind the onion and garlic into a paste and set it aside. If you don't have one, use a fork to mash them.
- Prep the chicken.Using a fork, shred the chicken and then place it in the large bowl. Add 2 TBSP of the chicken stock and the onion and garlic paste to the bowl, then mix well.Taste the chicken, add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Mix.
- To the large bowl add the pasta, carrots, sultanas, gherkins, caster sugar, drained pineapple chunks, mayonnaise, and a pinch of salt. Mix well and taste. Season with more salt if needed.
- Place in the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours or overnight if possible. Mix. Serve cold...AND DONE!!!
- Want to make this salad vegan? It's super simple, and Yes I've had it vegan, and it's just as delicious. Simply prep the jackfruit by removing the core and seeds. What you are left with are pieces of jackfruit that resemble pulled pork. Rinse the jackfruit and saute with some olive oil, granulated garlic, a tiny bit of liquid smoke, onion powder, and oregano. No need to salt the jackfruit. The jackfruit is ready when all the juices dry up. Use this to substitute for the chicken and continue with the recipe. Because the jackfruit has less seasoning than the chicken, at the end of the salad you may need to add some more salt or granulated garlic if that's your thing... it's def mine =) Garlic is my best friend!! Always taste first before adding more seasoning!
- Overcook your pasta slightly. Yes, you read that correctly! Pasta salads are the exception when it comes to overcooked pasta.
- The longer you drain the pineapple the better. This helps eliminate any excess liquid from the salad over time. Don't worry about losing the shape of the pineapple chunks.
- Don't throw away any leftover chicken stock. Save it, and use for it another recipe.
- You want to make sure the chicken is seasoned well before you mix in the rest of the ingredients. No one wants to eat bland chicken =) And trust if you skip it at this point and try to season it later, it won't be the same.
- Refrigerate overnight if possible. This salad is best served the day after it's made after the flavors have had time to blend well together. If you don't have the time, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- ALWAYS SERVE COLD!!!