Monday, September 5, 2011

'The Help' and Chicken Salad

I recently read ‘The Help’, the bestselling novel about women living Mississippi in the 1960’s and if you haven’t read it, do so NOW!  It’s the best thing I’ve read in months, or maybe even years.  Several key scenes in the story are set in the kitchen (this is about women the 1960’s after all) with ‘the help’ making all sorts of delicious food, such as fried chicken, pie etc (there’s a hilarious episode about a chocolate pie, but I wouldn’t say what it is in case you haven’t read the book as it would spoil the story). 

However, one thing that is not mentioned is chicken salad which surprised me as I always thought that chicken salad was a staple of Southern cooking, especially for ‘light’ lunches.  Maybe someone could enlighten me on this?  Did I miss the section with chicken salad in it?

Despite the apparent lack of chicken salad in the book, I felt the urge to make some.  Here’s my version which is very loosely based on my mother’s.

4 cups cooked chicken cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup seedless white grapes cut in half
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup toasted pecans (if you can’t get pecans, you could use toasted almond slivers, or walnuts)
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup plain yogurt or single cream
1 teaspoon French (Dijon) mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper

(All measurements are very approximate and can be increased or decreased depending on taste)
In a large bowl, mix all the salad ingredients together except the nuts.  In a separate dish, mix all the dressing ingredients together, pour over the salad and mix well.  Chill before serving.  Serve on lettuce with the nuts sprinkled on top (if you add the nuts too early they can become soft).

Very simple, very tasty!


  1. Oh! I must read this book--sounds like my sort of thing!

    I don't eat chicken salad though--I know weird right?

    Thanks for sharing! Cheers! Jenn

  2. Hi Jenn,

    I hope you enjoy 'The Help' as much as I did. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, especially if it's as good as the book.

    Shame that you don't eat chicken salad.


  3. Ooh, I'll definitely add this book to my reading list!

  4. Hi Word Nerd,

    When you've read 'The Help' let me know what you think. I hope you like it as much as I do.


  5. I love this book! I recently did a post about it too. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. Can't wait to try it!

  6. Hi Annette,

    Glad you like 'The Help' too. I enjoyed reading your posting about it on your blog - a nice summary of the book (

    Hope you enjoy the chicken salad