Last week I shared a favorite salad dressing with you all. And this week I'm sharing one of my favorite pasta salads that I like it on. My mom made something really similar growing up. Her pasta salad was always my favorite. My 5 siblings and I would snarf this stuff. I have always made it since I've been married too and my husband and kids now love it too. But we are kind of big on meat for dinner, and while I could serve this pasta as a side with grilled chicken or hot dogs or whatever else, I've simplified it a bit and thrown the grilled chicken right in the salad.
Last summer I discovered this dressing, and I've adapted it over the last year to be how I like it. The white vinegar in the original dressing was a little too strong for me, and since I'm head-over-heels for balsamic vinegar I've changed that - the dressing whips up super creamy and yummy. The fresh Parmesan and balsamic vinegar give it the perfect flavor to jazz up this pasta salad just the way I like it.
I hope you can whip up a batch to enjoy for dinner this week. The leftovers keep for 1-2 days too, so sometimes I eat it for lunch the next day or maybe even for dinner again the night or two after. I always love a night off from cooking.
Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad
1 pound tri-color rotini (I prefer Barilla brand)
4-8 ounces feta cheese crumbled
1 small package cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered and diced
1 can olives, sliced in half
1 pound grilled chicken (see my method below)
Olive oil and salt and pepper for grilling the meat
1 recipe Creamy Balsamic Parmesan Dressing
Cook pasta according to package directions, rinse with cold water when it’s finished cooking and let the noodles cool.
Pound 1 chicken breast (about 1 pound) until it’s an even thickness (or cut the chicken breast in half if you’d prefer to not pound it). Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat grill over high heat for 5 minutes - once it’s hot place the chicken on and cover, let it sear for 1-2 minutes on high, flip and let the other side sear for 1-2 minutes. Flip chicken and grill for 4-6 minutes per side until it’s done (check with meat thermometer, should reach 165 degrees F). Place on cutting board and cut it into bite size pieces once it’s cool enough to handle.
In a large mixing bowl add feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and cooked pasta. Once chicken is cut, add it to the pasta mixture and top with the dressing (you can use a bottle of Italian dressing too if you prefer) and toss to coat. Let it sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours til chilled and serve cold.
Leftovers keep for 1-2 days.
adapted from my mom’s classic pasta salad recipe, I added grilled chicken and use this particular dressing.