Monday, August 25, 2008

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Let me introduce you to our family's favorite salad...Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad.  In fact, we have renamed this salad into "Our Favorite Salad" at home.  I was first served this salad at a dear girlfriend's house years and years ago, and since that time we have made numerous variations to this salad. 

Most likely we have all the ingredients we need already stocked in the house on any given week.  That is not because I am efficient, organized, or have an incredibly stocked refrigerator.  It's just that the ingredients to this salad are on my mental list--the list I use when we need groceries but I have not prepared a menu plan or written a grocery shopping list.  Please tell me I'm alone here.  I guess it's what I do when winging it at the grocery store is a necessity.  My mental list generally contains the ingredients for this salad, the ingredients for steak fajitas, and/or the ingredients for spaghetti. 

If for some reason we don't have all the ingredients on hand, this is a salad that easily has wiggle room.  When we don't have parsley, we add cilantro.  When we are out of feta cheese, we are Parmesan.  When the green onions are gone, we just omit them.  If we have leftover chicken, we will substitute it in and enjoy the herbs it contributes. 

Isn't that how you would describe your favorite salad or meal too?  The one on your mental list, that everyone in your family eats and enjoys, and has the ability to adjust when necessary.

2 chicken breasts, bone-in (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or torn
1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
4 green onions, whites and greens chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
3 cups cooked Penne pasta (about 6 ounces uncooked)
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (raw tomatoes are always optional at my house)
Caesar salad dressing

1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place chicken breasts on rimmed baking sheet and brush on butter.  Generously sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place in middle rack of oven and roast for 55 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into thickest part of breast.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2.  Meanwhile, place romaine, basil, green onions, parsley, garlic, and feta cheese in large bowl.  Toss to combine.

3.  Shred chicken.  Place pasta and shredded chicken in bowl with other ingredients.  Toss to combine.  Add cherry tomatoes, if desired.  Serve with Caesar salad dressing either tossed in salad or on side.


hands full said...

another great Mama Hollioni meal! used the meat I pulled off the Costco roasted chichen i used for soup stock on Monday - worked out great! I left the raw garlic out -not sure how that would go over with my kids. Everyone liked/loved it. It helped knowing that it was Audrys "favorite" :) Only thing I will change next time - make it on a warmer day - Kaitlyn did not like cold chicken on cold salad when she was already cold :) Laura

Mamahollioni said...

I'm so glad you liked it...and I can see how a Costco roasted chicken would work well for this salad. My apologies to Kaitlyn...unfortunately, I can't do anything about the weather!