So what IS in Southern salad? Well, there are two main categories: sweet or savory. Cool Whip features prominently in the former and mayonnaise in the latter.
Sweet salads include, but are not limited to: fruit salad, pistachio salad, cranberry salad, strawberry salad, blueberry salad (noticing a theme here?), and ambrosia and Waldorf salads (for the fancy people).
Many of the above salads also feature Jello (or Jello Instant Pudding) as a main ingredient. In fact, I think the rule is that as long as you add one other ingredient to Jello, you can call it a salad. The varieties of congealed salad are too many to list, but here are a few I found in my trusty Bell’s Best community cookbook: Apricot Jello Salad, Coca-Cola Salad, Lemon-Lime Congealed Salad, and Miss Dora Sills’ Golden Glow Salad (which involves lemon Jello, pineapples, and carrots. Yum?).
I should mention that the outlier of the bunch is Waldorf salad, which contains both fruit and mayonnaise. But don’t blame Southerners for that bizarre pairing. It came straight out of the hotel formerly known as the Waldorf Hotel (now Waldorf-Astoria) in New York City. I should also mention that my sister-in-law Karen taught me to make an AH. MAZE. ING. fruit dip using only a pack of cream cheese and a jar of marshmallow creme. Ok, so that’s not technically a salad, but close enough.
In the savory salad category, you’ll find Southern staples like chicken salad, tuna salad (usually referred to as “tuna fish”), potato salad, egg salad, and macaroni salad. This is where you’ll find the occasional vegetable such as celery, green onions, or pickles. Mostly, though, the recipes break down like this: Put a large portion of salad’s namesake ingredient in bowl, add large portion of mayonnaise, stir, and serve. If you’d like to read more about chicken salad, check out what Southern women want by my blog pal, reelingintheyears.
I’ll leave y’all with the recipe for one of my all-time favorite salads (also courtesy of my sister-in-law Karen). You might think it sounds more like a casserole than a salad, but it’s CALLED salad, which is good enough for me.
Hot Chicken Salad
2 cups chicken (cooked and cut up)
1 can water chestnuts
1 can pimentos, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup almonds
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t celery salt
1/8 t pepper
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 can french-fried onion rings
Mix all ingredients together except cheese and onion rings. Mix cheese and onion rings together and place on top of mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
What are your favorite “salads”?