About This Recipe
Chicken Riggies is a specialty recipe from the Utica, New York region. It’s a creamy casserole made from rigatoni pasta, chicken, hot peppers, bell peppers, and Parmesan cheese in a tomato wine sauce. I, of course, transformed it into a main dish salad: Chicken Riggies Salad!
If you are tired of the chicken salads you’ve been making, but it’s still too hot to start turning to fall recipes, this is the salad for you. It’s creamy and slightly spicy, with a satisfying crunch from the bell peppers and juiciness from the little grape tomatoes.
You can make this salad as spicy or as mild as you’d like. Just vary the type of salsa you use. If you like a lot of heat, you can add some chopped Cubanelle peppers or jalapeño peppers to the salad. Just taste as you go, remembering that it’s a lot easier to add more heat than to cool it down.
You could also add other veggies. Sliced zucchini, cubed cucumber, yellow summer squash, and corn (especially sliced off the cob) would all be delicious.
This recipe makes a ton, so just leave it in the fridge and point to the fridge whenever anyone says they’re hungry. Hey, you made the salad. They can serve themselves (and clean up too).
How to make the best Chicken Riggies Salad
- As always, make the dressing first. The chicken will be the most tender and soft if you put it, hot, into the dressing so it can absorb it.
- Cook the pasta to al dente. It will soften a bit in the dressing, and pasta that is too soft is a great disappointment.
- You may want to make more dressing and keep it covered in the fridge. You can add more to the salad as it’s eaten (and it makes a great dip).
Why this recipe works
- The spicy and creamy salad dressing is a great contrast to the sweet and crunchy veggies.
- The rigatoni pasta has ridges to hold onto the sauce, just as in the original recipe.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine the mayonnaise, Miracle whip, chicken stock, salsa, and lemon juice and process or blend until smooth. Add more stock or lemon juice as needed for the correct salad dressing consistency, then stir in the Parm. Pour into a large bowl.
Break down the chickens, removing the skin and bones, and cube the meat. Add to the salad dressing as you work and stir to coat.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, put the peas in a colander in the sink. When the pasta is just al dente, empty the pot into the colander over the peas. Drain and add to the salad.
Add remaining ingredients and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.