One of my favorite meals when the weather warms up is salad – garden salads, veggie salads, pasta salads, you name it.

I love a cool pasta salad the most, I think, next to my green salad concoctions I’ve come up with.

This is one that I have made my own over the years but it comes from the days I was a road warrior. I was teaching in Dallas (or was it Houston? I can’t remember.) One of my fellow instructor-buddies was based there and offered to fix me a home-cooked dinner.  Since eating in restaurants was 90% of my daily intake Monday thru Friday, I was only too happy to accept his offer.

He had the tiniest apartment. I remember it because I remember wondering if I would be happy if I were on my own and had a tiny little apartment like that. I loved it, though. His decorating was serene and simple. It made you feel calm and peaceful.  Funny that I remember that even though it has been, oh, I don’t know, fifteen years?

Anyway, he whipped up this awesome pasta salad for our dinner. And I was in heaven.  Most pasta salads I’d had prior to that were typical Southern, mayonnaise-laden affairs which I could barely stomach.  This was light, cool, and fresh.

I later found out that James had invented the recipe on his own. It made it all that more special to me.

I’ve since altered it a bit to suit our tastes, but the essence of the salad is still all James’ original dish.

IMGP3420Chicken Pasta Salad

1 Deli Rotisserie chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces (you can also use baked chicken, but rotisserie seems to have a better flavor for this dish)
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
1/2 chopped green or yellow bell pepper
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 pound fusilli pasta, cooked al dente & drained
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Sweet basil (about 2 tsp)
Garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
Italian Seasoning (about 1 Tbsp)
Cajun Seasoning (about 1 Tbsp)
Black Pepper
Salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, pasta & vegetables. Mix well.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients except the parmesan cheese. 
  3. Pour dressing over pasta mixture & toss to coat.  Dressing should have a little “bite” to it from the Cajun seasoning but not be too spicy. 
  4. Top with parmesan cheese. Chill before serving.

If I am making this for a crowd, I double the amount of pasta & veggies and make a double batch of the dressing.

The batch you see above also has some cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced in there.

And this is one of those recipes that’s even better made a day ahead.

 

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