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.
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)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, pasta & vegetables. Mix well.
- In another bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients except the parmesan cheese.
- 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.
- 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.