This Curried Chicken Salad is one of those recipes that beg to be shared. Every single time it is made and shared, everyone wants the recipe. That is, in fact, how this particular salad ended up in my repertoire and on our family favorites list.
We’ve actually been enjoying this perfect pasta salad for nearly a decade now, but I always hesitate to share it because I have to trace it’s origin back to my former mother-in-law. I can’t remember where she got it from, but I remember the summer she discovered it and we ate it over and over. She served it at her book club gathering and everyone wanted the recipe. She served it at church and everyone wanted the recipe. Then my husband (the first one, and you have no idea how much it pains me to have to qualify that) catered a wedding and served this and of course, everyone wanted the recipe.
Fast forward ten years and we’re still making it and everyone who tastes it is still asking for the recipe. I can also say that it’s getting easier to mention the ex-husband (the first one anyway) and the former in-laws without turning red in the face or crying or even clenching my fists. It’s true that time can heal most things, which I’d like to tell my devastatingly single self back in 2009.
This salad is further evidence that the opposite is also true, i.e. some things are in fact timeless. This Curried Chicken Salad with it’s sweet and spicy mango chutney is never going to get old. We plan to keep making it, and eating it, and sharing the recipe for many years to come.
We normally eat this for dinner in the summer. I think of it when it’s hot outside because it’s something quick, tasty, and oven-free that I can pull out. Also, when served alongside some fresh cut watermelon or peaches, it makes a perfect light summer dinner.
But I should also tell you that I’ve made this for lunch on a day when I had the house to myself and really didn’t have to cook anything. When I think of the mango chutney or the crunch of toasted coconut, I am sometimes willing to make this even when I don’t really need to cook.
It’s been served at weddings and church luncheons and book clubs. It is tasty at picnics and potluck gatherings and will really steal the show on the side dish table. The curry flavor is light, just a hint, and the mango chutney doesn’t over power either. It’s worth mentioning my ex-husband, who really used to have a “he who must not be named” status around here, just to make sure this salad can continue inspiring lunches, dinners, and picnics for years to come.
To make this extra simple, pick up a rotisserie chicken and this orzo salad will come together in a snap! Also, I normally find Mango Chutney in the Asian section of most grocery stores. In a pinch, I’ve tried using apricot jam instead of the chutney, but it really just isn’t the same. It’s definitely worth finding the chutney. Enjoy!
- 1½ cups uncooked orzo
- 3 cups diced cooked chicken breast
- 1 cup sliced celery
- ½ cup sliced green onion
- 1 cup mayo
- ½ cup mango chutney
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ⅔ cup toasted coconut flakes (for toppings)
- ½ cup sun flower seeds (for toppings)
- In a large saucepan, bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a boil. Salt water generously and add orzo. Cook according to package instructions (about 9 minutes for perfect al dente orzo). Drain then toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients (excluding the coconut and seed toppings). Stir gently until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or cold as desired. Top with toasted coconut flakes and sun flower seeds just before serving. Garnish with green onion.