Hope's Corner: The Salad Days of Summer
"Beyond tuna salad and egg salad lay a vast uncharted territory for me," writes Jackie Hope.
I am beginning to wonder exactly how many salad variations I can come up with for supper, as this 90-degree heat wave lays on us like a homicidal electric blanket. Not talking about green salads with baby spinach and arugula, which are more suitable for my rabbits than for my family. Talking about tuna on toast and egg salad on a bun. And chicken salad, which is a more mature version of egg salad, on an English muffin. Talking about ham and Spam with mayo and mustard.
All North Dakotans instinctively know how to make a hotdish out of anything we find in the pantry and freezer. We make hotdishes and stews and meatloaves all winter long. But meaty salads? Those are the things you order when you go out to lunch with your girlfriends, and you want to impress them with your willpower to not order a hot beef sandwich.
Beyond tuna salad and egg salad lay a vast uncharted territory for me. I checked out recipes for chicken salad, all of which began, “Cook and cool the chicken.” Now, see, that is exactly what I wanted to avoid until the daily highs were lower than my lower blood pressure number. Which, by the way, is rising with the temperature. Because I do not gladly suffer heat, unless it is coming out of my furnace when it is subzero outside.
My go-to for winter hotdishes is tinned chicken. I figured that would work for the main ingredient in my chicken salad. The online cooks seemed to have left out the second most important hotdish ingredient, canned soup. They recommended mayonnaise and mustard instead.
I am down with those two things, because that is what I put in my deviled eggs. And my egg salad is merely hard boiled eggs that were so impossible to peel, I diced them instead of stuffed them. My chicken salad was shaping up much like egg salad.
But another hotdish ingredient was calling to me, saying, “Put me with the chicken. I will be delicious.” Even though the fancy-schmancy cooks online were turning a blind eye to my third most important hotdish ingredient, pasta, I boiled up some anyway and chucked it in with the chicken. I even used the classy pasta that looks like little coiled Slinkys.
Rachel Ray wrote that grapes were just the thing to give zest to my chicken salad. Grapes? Every North Dakotan knows that grapes are used to garnish a fruit cocktail, pistachio pudding, and Cool-Whip salad. The Pioneer Woman recommended slivered almonds. Again, we all know that slivered almonds are for decorating spritz cookies at Christmas, not for zesting up a can of tinned chicken.
My chicken salad was a hit, and we ate it on toast. It was a chicken and pasta club sandwich. Next up is either ham or Spam. Spam and macaroni and mayonnaise might be delightful. And if not, I can add some cream soup and make a hotdish.
Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. "Hope's Corner" is a weekly humorous column centered on a message of hope for residents in southwest North Dakota.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor Forum ownership.