Chicken Caesar Pasta

This has become my kids’ favorite meal. I made it last night and they said, “You should make this every week, Mama.”

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Of course, if I made it every week it would no longer be their favorite meal.  So, I’ll save it in my bag-o-tricks for those days when I really don’t have time to cook and know that I have a sure-fire winner for dinner in spite of no time.

Seriously, this takes no more than 30 minutes to prepare.  And it tastes like something that took waaaaaayyyy longer – or maybe came from a fancy restaurant.

The original recipe came from Cook’s Country Magazine. One of my favorite magazines.  That and it’s sister publication, Cook’s Illustrated.  LOVE those magazines.  I’ve never cooked a bad meal that I’ve found in those pages.

The little one says she loves the combination of warm and cool.  The big one loves the wilted lettuce and chicken together.  I just love it all.  It’s a perfect pasta dish.  And it’s even good the next day as a cold salad.

Seriously. Try this. You won’t regret it.

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Chicken Caesar Pasta

1 pound pasta (fusilli, cavatappi, etc.) pasta
Salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded, I use the fancy shreds, not the grated stuff)
2 Tbs lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tsp jarred minced garlic)
6 Tbs olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
2 romaine lettuce hearts, halved lengthwise through core (do not cut core off)

  1. Marinate the chicken breasts in the balsamic vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Make the Caesar dressing. (see below)
  3. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Salt generously.
  4. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes)
  5. Pour off pasta into a colander and rinse with cool water. Set aside in a large bowl, ready for the other ingredients when they’re ready.
  6. While pasta is cooking, heat your grill. Cut chicken breasts into smaller “tender-sized” pieces. This will allow them to cook faster on the grill without drying out.
  7. When grill is hot, cook the chicken.
  8. Just before the chicken is finished cooking, lay the romaine cut side down onto the grill.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes per side until slightly charred.
  9. Bring chicken and lettuce to a cutting board. Tent chicken with foil while you chop the lettuce. Place cut lettuce in with the pasta.
  10. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place in the pasta.
  11. Toss the chicken-pasta mixture with the Caesar dressing, mixing ingredients thoroughly.
  12. Sprinkle with some leftover parmesan cheese and DEVOUR.

Caesar dressing

This is truly the best homemade Caesar dressing. I can hardly stand bottled Caesar dressing after tasting this. Spoiled me forever.

In a blender or food processor, blend the mayonnaise, parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.  Slowly add the olive oil until incorporated. Set aside until ready to top the pasta.

*original Cooks’ Country recipe can be found here.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

I have a fantastic pasta salad recipe for you today –

But, before I get to that, I have a question for you – especially those of you that print out my recipes and use them at home.  I’ve been including the recipe directly on the blog and adding a print option to the post.  In the past, I’d used AllRecipes.com and posted the recipes there.

I’m considering going back to that method for a couple of reasons and I wanted to know if you had any strong opinions one way or the other… Here are the reasons I’m considering switching back to that method:

  • consistent format
  • easy access
  • super-easy printing
  • you can save the recipes into your own recipe book and have a compilation of your favorite recipes

So, today’s recipe is linked below to the recipe on AllRecipes.com. If you wouldn’t mind, click over and see what you think.  I think I’ll be slowly migrating my recipes over to this site and re-linking them on the Recipes page of this blog so that you can easily access & print them from one place.

I’d love to hear your input, though, so please let me know what you think!

Okay, enough of the business –

Here’s the recipe for you today – a really yummy pasta salad.  I think I’ve mentioned to you before that I absolutely LOVE sun-dried tomatoes.  I love the saltiness, the chew, the just general yumminess of them.  I could eat them like candy, I think.

So, when I was craving pasta salad the other day, I thought about trying to find a way to incorporate some sun-dried tomatoes into the mixture. I wanted something a little different than the usual chicken pasta salad I make, something a little more Mediterranean in flavor.

I have a basil plant on the back porch that my momma gave me and I’ve been searching all summer for some great recipes to make use of the basil. (By the way, anyone want to teach me to make pesto?)

So, I mixed and tasted, chopped and stirred.  And this was the result.  SuperMan absolutely loved it (as did I) and said it was even better the next day or two for lunch at work. I was really glad I was able to give him a tasty (and filling) yet cool salad to eat on the hot, dog-days of summer.

Give it a try – especially if you have some leftover grilled chicken like we did – adding the chicken makes it a hearty meal.

Click on the title to go to the link on AllRecipes.com.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb wagon wheel pasta (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (reserve oil)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or use reserved oil from tomatoes)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan (or use Parmesan/asiago blend)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
Directions
  1. Boil pasta in salted water.
  2. Drain & set aside.
  3. Place basil & tomatoes in food processor. Pulse 4-5 times until blended.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the pasta, tomato/basil mixture, adding the cheese, salt, pepper, garlic & oil.
  5. Toss to coat.
  6. Serve warm or chilled. It tastes great both ways.
Footnotes
  • OPTIONAL: Add 1-2 grilled chicken breasts, chopped, to make this salad a meal. You can also rough-chop the basil & tomatoes if you’d rather have larger pieces in the salad.