Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Tonight’s dinner is one of those super simple dishes that can be thrown together with little effort and very little actual cooking as well, which makes it the perfect weeknight meal.  It also makes great leftovers for lunch the following days.  This is yet another recipe that takes advantage of the ever-convenient and delicious rotisserie chicken…. one of my favorite cheats!  I suppose you could make your own chicken if you wanted, but last I checked there were no awards being handed out for causing yourself unnecessary hassle and making it from scratch lol.

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The concept of this dish is pretty basic, with many of the usual Italian ingredients… and that’s ok.  Sometimes you just don’t need to mess with a good thing.  I really enjoyed this salad, and would definitely make it as is over and over again with complete satisfaction.  I can also see room for embellishments too if you wanted to mix things up from time to time.  Perhaps some crispy proscuitto, maybe some parsley or lemon… or whatever other Italian ingredients you like.  The only change I made to the original recipe was to use half kalamata olives just because they are my favorite and I happened to have some of both in the fridge I needed to use up.  Another area of versatility is in the dressing.  With so many options out there this could easily take on a lot of different flavors.  I used some Olive Garden Italian dressing I had on hand which I really love because it’s so creamy and cheesy.  You can also use whatever type of pasta you prefer.  I used some orecchiette, which is great for catching the dressing in the little bowl shaped centers.  The only downside is that they tend to stack up in there.

I cut the recipe in half and still had LOTS of food, so take that into consideration.  This would feed a lot of people, but like I said it can also make good leftovers.  I actually made mine earlier in the day and let it hang out in the fridge for a few hours before I served it.  I did sneak a taste right away before putting it in there, and I gotta say I really liked it with slightly warm pasta.  However, it’s still very good totally chilled.  It’s not a bad idea to reserve a bit of dressing to mix in later on just in case it seems a bit dry after sitting so long.

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Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Ingredients :

  • 1 pkg. (16 oz) pasta
  • 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, diced
  • 1 can (6 oz) sliced black olives
  • 1 tub (8 oz) mozzarella pearls
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup torn or julienned basil
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 bottle (16 oz) Italian salad dressing, divided

Directions :

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Rinse under cold water and drain well.  Pour pasta into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, reserving about 1/2 cup of the dressing.  Mix to combine.
  3. Serve or refrigerate until ready to use.  (Pasta may dry out upon standing. Add reserved dressing if needed)

Recipe from In Good Flavor


Chicken Nacho Soup

I may have mentioned before that I am not much of a soup person, but that doesn’t stop me from trying them from time to time.  In doing so, I have actually found a couple I really like, which is a pretty big change from hating all soups.  Tonight’s soup was pretty good, but I am not sure it will become a favorite for me personally.  I think I would have liked it to be a tad creamier somehow, or a little less hot sauce since that was the dominating flavor to me.  I did like it with the chips for dipping though, and as far as soups go I would probably eat it again just to keep things different once in a while… perhaps with the changes I mentioned.  Jeff eats soup a lot more often than me and he said it was good, so perhaps he’s a better judge for this one.

It comes together quite easily, and doesn’t need a lot of time to cook which is always a good thing on those busy weeknights.  I love that it uses rotisserie chicken because that’s even less work you have to do, and I just really like rotisserie chicken.  At first I wasn’t sure what the recipe meant by “nachos”, but I decided it must have meant tortilla chips since the article also mentioned dipping them in the soup and some were pictured with it.  So anyway, I went with an Artisan Toasted Southwestern variety and they were perfect for this.  For the cheese I used Monteray Jack, but I bet cheddar, mozzarella, or even pepper jack if you really like the heat would also be good.

Chicken Nacho Soup

Serves : 4-6             Time to make : 40 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 (8 oz) package cream cheese (I used fat free)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 4 C. chicken broth
  • 1 T. hot sauce
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 1 C. nachos, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded cheese for topping
  • cilantro or parsley for topping (optional)

Directions :

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook onions in hot oil until translucent.  Add garlic and jalapenos and cook a minute more.
  2. Add water and cream cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.  Add crumbled nachos next, this helps to thicken the soup.  Add chicken, corn, and salsa and stir to combine.  Then add your broth, hot sauce, and tomato paste and stir again.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a low boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese, cilantro, and more nachos for dipping.

Recipe from Jo Cooks


Day 140 : Chicken Pesto Panini

Tonight’s creation is sort of a culmination of a few recipes.  I had originally planned to make something similar and had the ingredients, but when I read the directions and realized I was going to have to do WAY more prep-work than I had thought I decided to scrap it and see if I could find something else.  I found a couple things, but none were just what I wanted so I sort of made up my own.  They turned out great, and were definitely easy to make.

You could substitute whatever bread you wanted for this.  You could also make your own grilled chicken or whatever and use that.  Since I used a rotisserie chicken that was already cooked I didn’t get a chance to flavor it how I would like so I just put some italian seasoning and salt and pepper on it after I shredded it up.  If you felt so inclined, you could also make your own pesto for this but the store bought stuff works just fine too.

Chicken Pesto Panini

Serves : 3                    Time to make : 15 minutes

Ingredients :

  • about half of a rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • about 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 6 slices provolone
  • 1/2-2/3 cup roasted red peppers
  • 2-3 T. sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 ciabatta rolls
  • land o lakes tuscan style spreadable butter (or whatever you have)

Directions :

  1. Shred your chicken, and season if you want with some italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  2. Spread pesto on both sides of ciabatta.
  3. Place a piece of cheese down, then the roasted red peppers and sun dried tomatoes, and then the chicken and another slice of cheese.  Top with the other half of the ciabatta.
  4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat… spread butter on the tops of each assembled sandwich and place top down into the skillet.  Using a second skillet, place on top of the sandwiches and put something heavy in it to press down on your sandwiches.  A couple large cans of food work well for this. 
  5. When tops are browned, butter the bottoms and flip to brown the other side, placing the skillet with weights on top again.
  6. Cut in half and serve.