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Luau Chicken Salad

The heartbreaking tragedy that occurred in Maui has been all over the news. I mourn, like the rest of the country, the loss of lives, homes, businesses, and historic landmarks. It seems almost impossible that nearly the entire town of Lahaina has been destroyed.

We have traveled to Maui several times, staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Ka’anapali Beach. Lahaina was one of our favorite places to visit. We loved Cheeseburger in Paradise and the Lahaina Grill, both of which were destroyed like many other business. Lahaina’s destruction caused me to reminisce about its unique ambience and its beauty, bringing to mind my favorite lunch at the Hyatt Regency—Luau Chicken Salad. I keep the beauty of that area alive, as a food blogger, by sharing the recipe for my favorite lunch, which contains my favorite Hawaiian foods—macadamia nuts, coconut, and pineapple.

Luau Chicken Salad Serves 6

The Hyatt Regency served this salad nestled on a bed of lettuce with fresh pineapple spears, mandarin oranges, and grapes.

For the Salad 4 to 6 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, boned, skinned, and chopped into bite-size pieces (about 2 pounds or 4 cups) 1 can (5-ounces) water chestnuts, sliced and drained ½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped ¼ cup coconut, shredded 1 cup celery, sliced 1 can (20-ounces) pineapple chunks, drained or 2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces In a large bowl, combine chicken pieces, water chestnuts, macadamia nuts, coconut, celery, and pineapple chunks.

For the dressing: 1 cup mayonnaise (more if needed) 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon curry powder ¼ teaspoon onion salt, or more to taste ¼ teaspoon large grind black pepper, or more to taste In a separate bowl. Combine mayonnaise, soy sauce, curry powder, onion salt, and pepper. Add dressing to salad and toss to coat evenly. Cover and chill for several hours before serving.

Tips on shopping for pineapples: Select pineapples that are plump. This fruit should seem heavy for its size, and its outer skin should feel slightly soft to the touch. Leaves on the crown should be fresh, with a deep green color. Pineapples with dry, brown leaves or a dull, yellow appearance will be more acidic to the palate. My father taught me to pull gently on the leaves. If the leaves can be removed easily with gentle pressure, the pineapple is ripe. Shop with your nose. The stem end of fresh pineapples will have a sweet aroma. Highly colored pineapples will have a sweeter taste because they were picked ripe. Avoid bruised, discolored pineapples with soft spots, an unpleasant odor, or dark, watery eyes. The eyes of a pineapple should be flat and almost hollow.

Tips on storing pineapples: If you buy your pineapple chilled, keep it refrigerated. If it was at room temperature at the time of purchase, keep it at room temperature. Pineapples ferment quickly, so they should be kept in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Once you cut your pineapple, place the pieces in an airtight container or wrap them pieces in plastic wrap. Cut pineapple stored in an airtight container will keep 3 days in the refrigerator.

To eat: Cut off the top and bottom with a large, sharp knife. Slice off the skin from the top downward. I prefer to remove the eyes of the pineapple with a small paring knife. Cut in a circular motion around the eye and pry it out. Cut the fruit into four wedges and remove the core.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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