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

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Chopped Thai Chicken Salad


In my mind summer is pretty much over, and I am ready for fall, and all the stuff that comes with it, including the menu!  However, I may just be willing to hang onto the last bit of summer if it means dinners like this!  Such a refreshing and flavorful salad, with all the right textures.  You get the softness of the chicken (I of course used rotisserie – an obsession of mine if you haven’t realized by now lol), the crispness of the cabbage and peppers, and the crunch from the peanuts all smothered in a fantastic Thai peanut sauce.

Interesting little realization was the lack of dairy in this salad… it’s not often I make even salads that don’t have it, and of course my stomach thanks me on those rare occasions I pull off a meal without it.  Normally salads in my world at least have cheese, but there is no need for it in this one.  Whether you have IBS like me, or are just watching your calories this is always a good thing.  Speaking of IBS and the low FODMAP diet I am “trying” (and I say that in quotes because I have been less than strict with it) I would say this stacks up fairly well unless you are a person that is sensitive to things like cabbage.  It didn’t bother me at all.

The recipe came from a blogger living in The Philippines, and her recipe called for green papaya.  I am not all that familiar with papaya in general, and certainly not green vs whatever else.  I know they have papaya at the store, but doubt it’s what her recipe calls for.  Anyway, I decided not to be quite so adventurous and instead replaced the papaya with some red and yellow bell peppers which I knew would go well with the Thai flavors.  Also, in our house the peanut butter is typically crunchy, so that’s what I used though I am sure it meant creamy.  Not a big deal, just makes it a bit harder to whisk up the sauce, but not impossible.  Just make sure you’re wearing an apron!  And the final change I made was to use half a serrano pepper in place of the birds eye chili peppers because I had that already on hand.

This is definitely one recipe I can see myself making often!

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or the equivalent of in rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 small head green or white cabbage (2 cups shredded)
  • 1 large carrot (1 1/2 cup shredded)
  • 1 green papaya (1 1/2 cup shredded) * I replaced with the equivalent of red and yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 birds eye chili peppers
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 T. fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions :

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the chicken breasts, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. When the chicken is done, remove from heat, drain water, let cool, and shred with two forks. (Or skip this because you were smart like me and bought rotisserie chicken… or even better yet pre-shredded rotisserie chicken)
  2. Chop the cabbage into very thin pieces, like it would be for coleslaw. I did this by rolling up several leaves together and making thin vertical slices across the roll and then chopping them once horizontally. Peel and grate the carrots. Cut off the skin, remove the seeds, and grate the papaya. Roughly chop the cilantro and green onions. Toss the chicken and vegetables in a large bowl and keep chilled.
  3. Mince the garlic and chili peppers. Place garlic and peppers in a small mixing bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice, oil, and fish sauce. Whisk until smooth. Add the peanut butter and water and whisk again until smooth and creamy.
  4. Toss the salad with the dressing. Add the crushed peanuts. Serve chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one day. For best results, keep the leftover salad and dressing separate until ready to serve.

Recipe from Pinch of Yum

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Greek Chickpea Salad


I had this one up on the menu for over a week.  Each time I planned to make it something came up and it got pushed back.  That entire time Jeff complained about how he would never eat something like that, and how gross it sounded.  I decided to compromise and allow him to order something the night I finally  made it to go along with it from a local Greek restaurant.  I instructed him to get some falafel or maybe a gyro or something.  He ended up getting gyros, falafel, pita and hummus, and buffalo calamari!  Obviously a full meal in itself and thus we didn’t eat much of the salad I made that night because we didn’t want to waste the other stuff.  I honestly think that was his plan all along.

However, we did both try it.  I thought it was great, and full of flavor.  He hesitantly admitted that he also thought it was pretty good.  I ended up eating it the next day for lunch and WOW!  It was even better, as the flavors had plenty of time to marry over night.  This could seriously become one of my new favorite things to make because you can make it ahead, and eat it for days.  I also think it would be the perfect thing for a potluck or dinner party, but I would suggest maybe making it the day before just so it can get better like mine did.

I really didn’t change anything in the recipe, but I may have used a little more garlic than was called for.  I also didn’t have fresh rosemary so used dried.  I eye balled most of the ingredients so I may have been a bit generous with some of them, but that’s what I like about dishes like these.  You really can’t go wrong.  I especially loved the dressing for this.  This is not one to pass up!

 

Greek Chickpea Salad

Makes 2 lunches or 6 smaller side dish servings.

Ingredients :

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped (I used grape tomatoes and squeezed out the seeds)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3 – 4 T. olive oil (I think I used 3)
  • juice of 1 lemon (I threw in the zest as well)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste (I made a paste with about 3-4 cloves and a little coarse salt)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. rosemary, finely minced and to taste)
  • feta cheese (optional)

Directions :

  1. In a medium sized bowl, toss together the chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, and kalamata olives,  In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic paste, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Taste the dressing and correct your seasonings.  Be aware that fresh rosemary can easily overpower a dish.  Add the dressing to the garbanzo mixture.  Mix lightly.  Top with optional feta cheese.

Recipe from Feral Kitchen

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Day 145 : Taco Salad Nachos


Well I’m back!  Enjoyed my time away, and was able to recharge my batteries so to speak, but not it’s time to get back to things.

Tonight’s recipe is one we’ve made before and it’s perfect for any night.  It literally goes together in maybe 10 minutes, and it’s something the whole family can enjoy.  I know a lot of people have taco night because they are easy…. well these are even easier because you don’t have to assemble tacos and there is no worry about them spilling out onto your plate because they are already in a pile!  You can crunch up the chips and eat it more like a salad or leave the chips whole and eat them as nachos.

I will list our typical taco toppings, but feel free to use whatever you like for yours.

 

Taco Salad Nachos

Serves : 4                Time to make  : 10 minutes

 

Ingredients :

  • 1 bag of tortilla chips (For extra flavor try hint of lime, pepper jack, or jalapeno chips)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small can olives, sliced
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup sour cream (fat free)
  • 1/2 cup guacamole
  • 1 pkg shredded lettuce

Directions :

  1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, and drain.  Add seasoning and water and mix.
  2. Place chips on the bottom of the plate and layer the meat, cheese, onions, olives, and lettuce on top. 
  3. Mix together the salsa, sour cream, and guacamole and pour over the top.

 

 

Thanks for your patience and I hope you will all stick with me!

 

Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 9:14 pm  Comments (1)  
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Day 138 : Macaroni Salad


We decided to have a hotdog night so I just needed something to serve with them.  A quick search resulted in this gem of a recipe.  Originally is obviously called for macaroni but I used an organic veggie spiral pasta since that’s what I had on hand and it turned out well that way since the spirals allow all the sauce to stick to the noodle better.  It also called for celery but I didn’t have any and honestly I don’t care for it.  I will list it in the ingredients list though in case someone else does.  If, like me, you choose to leave it out just increase the other three things slightly to make up for it.  I especially like the sauce, and it reminds me of the deviled egg salad sandwiches which I have also made for this blog.

The entire thing came together very quickly and easily and could easily be doubled or tripled as a potluck type thing.  You could even add cubes of cheese or some olives or pretty  much anything else you like to it.

Macaroni Salad

Serves : 4               Time to make : 20 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 lb macaroni, cooked and rinsed in cold water until completely cooled then drained.
  • 1 cup light mayo
  • 2 T. vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
  • 1 T. mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Directions :

  1. Combine the mayo, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until well mixed.
  2. Pour over the pasta, and veggies and toss to coat.

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 122 : Garlic Croutons


If you’re anything like us when it comes time to eat your salad you suddenly realize you don’t have any croutons on hand.  Or you have tried many different ones and find that most of them are too hard.  Not only can you not stab them with your fork, but there might even be genuine concern about your teeth!  Ok… maybe not, but hard croutons are one of my pet peeves.

The simplest solution is to make your own!  It’s SUPER easy, and you have so much control over how they are made and the flavors you want them to have.  Some might say it is even fun coming up with new flavor varieties.  You could certainly even go healthy with them and use wheat bread.  The possibilities are endless.

Tonight I used part of a fresh french loaf from the store, and some garlic parmesan seasoning mix I got a LONG time ago from my mom.  The original recipe suggested using real garlic cloves minced up (2 or more) and plain white bread, and that’s how I did it the first time with great results as well.  I find these to be the perfect amount of crisp, buttery goodness, and flavor and as I said  you can beat the convenience.  I will list out the original recipe, and make note of things I have done next to it.

Garlic Croutons

Serves : makes about 2 1/2 cups of croutons
Time to make : 15 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 4 slices white bread (I used maybe a third of a french loaf tonight)
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

optional additions

  • instead of the garlic cloves I used about a T. of the seasoning blend tonight (I was actually making more than stated though so just judge to your taste)
  • basil
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • italian blend
  • salt
  • greek blend
  • cajun blend
  • lemon pepper

Directions :

  1. Cut bread up into cubes.
  2. In a bowl combine melted butter and oil and whisk together.  If you are adding seasonings you can add it here or sprinkle on later.
  3. Toss bread cubes in a bowl with minced garlic and drizzle butter/oil mix over them as you toss to coat everything.  Just be gentle so as not to squish the bread cubes.
  4. Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown at 325 degrees.  If you haven’t already added the seasonings to the butter mix sprinkle on before you bake them.
  5. Allow to cool, and store in a ziplock bag or other airtight container.

Published in: on May 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 121 : Italian Sub Pasta Salad


This salad is the perfect thing to make for picnics, potlucks, holiday celebrations, or even for a light dinner like we did tonight.  I have made this many times, and have always gotten rave reviews for it.  It’s definitely simple to make, you just have to set aside a bit of time for the prep-work because there is a lot of chopping to do.

For the meats and cheese, I just ask the deli guy to give me a few slices of each at their thickest cut which is maybe 1/2-3/4 inch.  Then I just cube that up and throw it in.  You can make things simple for yourself by buying pre-cut onions, and whatever else you can find already prepped.  I’ve also thrown in things like green peppers, feta, and I think even pickles in the past with great results.  It’s definitely versatile and the measurements are just for reference and you can judge how much of each thing you want in your salad.  Tonight I didn’t have shredded lettuce so I used some of the salad spring mix I had and I think that worked well.  I also used some organic garden pasta tonight which worked really well, but you can use whatever pasta you want.

Italian Sub Pasta Salad

Serves : 8                 Time to make : 30 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 8 oz. rotini pasta, cooked drained and cooled
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce, packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 4 oz. diced cooked ham
  • 4 oz. diced hard salami
  • 4 oz. cubed provolone cheese

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tps. oregano

Directions :

  1. Make sure your pasta has cooled completely.  (I usually just rinse it in cold water for a while)
  2. In a large bowl, toss together pasta, tomatoes, cucumber, red  pepper, shredded lettuce, chopped onion, sliced black olives, ham, salami, and provolone.
  3. In a jar or crouet, pour all the dressing ingredients.  Shake very very well. 
  4. Pour over the salad and toss to coat evenly.
  5. Serve.

Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 100 : Italian Chicken Salad


Woohoo!  I made it to day 100!  Thanks to everyone who continues to read my blog, and I hope you have walked away with many great new recipes, and will continue to check out my stuff!

This is a super simple salad to make, and most of the ingredients are pantry staples.  The person who came up with the recipe did so one night when she found herself with a package of salad about to expire.  I’ve made it a number of times and we always enjoy it.  The one thing I did different tonight, which made it even better, was to add a bit of goat cheese.

I usually season some chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and italian seasoning and grill them up for this.  I also use probably double the amount of kalamata olives because I really like them.  If you make this with the intention if it being a side to your main dish it would easily serve 4, but if you want to make a meal out of just the salad I would say it serves more like 2 or 3.  I usually make some crescent rolls with it or biscuits.  Once I even made some Mediterranean scones that went very well with it.

 

Italian Chicken Salad

Serves : 2-4             Time to make : 20 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 (8 oz) package butter lettuce (I use an italian salad blend)
  • 1 (6) oz package pre-cooked chicken breast, chopped (I use two breasts)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder

Directions :

  1. To make dressing, whisk together oil and vinegar in a bowl until well combined.  Then whisk in the garlic powder, pepper, and onion powder.  Set aside.  Before serving you may need to whisk again if it has separated.
  2. Toss salad with chicken, olives and parmesan.  Add dressing and toss to coat.

Day 91 : Shrimp w/ Feta and Orzo


This is another of those great, simple, and versatile dishes that you can have any day of the week, and any time of year.  I have made it many times now and it’s a very nice and light, fresh meal.  The original does not call for shallots or red pepper, or even garlic, but I like them so I put them in.  I also don’t stick to the exact measurements according to the original recipe… I just eyeball it and put however much I want that particular night.

The recipe says orzo, and that is usually what I use, but I decided to have a bit of fun with it tonight and try stars because I happened to find the cutest little star pasta at the store the other day.  My hopes were that Perrin would eat it…. but no such luck.  Archer LOVED it though and the size of the stars were perfect for him.  One out of two isn’t bad in my book!

Shrimp w/ Feta and Orzo

Serves : 3-4                Time to make : 15-20 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 lb shrimp, cooked peeled and deveined with tails off
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, like the italian style ones
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Optional additions I have tried and enjoyed

  • 1-2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-3/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4-1/3 cup red onion or shallots, chopped
  • more parsley and more lemon zest
  • sun-dried tomato feta

Directions :

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
  2. Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium high heat put in tomatoes and cook until the liquid is absorbed. (I usually throw in the peppers, onions and garlic about  halfway through)
  3. Add shrimp and other ingredients (minus the feta) and heat through.  Toss in the drained pasta.
  4. Carefully toss in the feta and serve.

 

Published in: on April 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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Day 32 : Greek Salad


Happy Groundhog Day everyone!  I could not be happier for the early spring prediction!  I am SO over this cold and snow lol.

Today I wanted to keep things a little lighter after our pizza night last night.  There is a local restaurant that serves this awesome greek salad and I wanted to see if I could find a similar salad to make at home since it’s not often we go out with two little ones these days.  This salad comes pretty close to matching the one from the restaurant, but is a bit different.  The one they serve doesn’t have the cucumbers and green peppers, and has roasted garlic, but I like the extra crunch they add and of course I could always throw in some roasted garlic if I had the time.  The dressing is really nice, and I can see making it just to have around for side salads even.

The only change I made was to add some chicken to make it more of a meal.  I used a greek seasoning blend recipe to create my own, but you could use any store bought variety you liked or even just wing it on the seasonings.  I think for personal tastes I would leave out the tomatoes next time or maybe use some grape tomatoes.  Make sure to plan ahead for this one so the dressing has time to blend all the flavors really well.

And since it was my niece’s 3rd birthday today I decided we’d make some cupcakes!  Too bad she lives hundreds of miles away lol.  Anyway, I just did boxed funfetti cake and canned frosting but I did add my own little touch and threw in some orange extract to the batter.  YUM!  I took pics just for fun.

Greek Salad

Serves : 4                 Time to make : 10 minutes

Ingredients :

Dressing

  • 1 cup olive oil (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 whole large lemon, juice of (about 3-4 tablespoons, make certain that the lemon is at room temperature before squeezing)
  • 2 -4 teaspoons dried oregano (start with 2 teaspoons)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)

Salad

  • 1 large romaine lettuce, chopped (or use 2 small)
  • 2 -3 plum tomates, cut in wedges (use Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 English cucumber (peeled, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 red onion, cut in slices
  • 1 green bell pepper (seeded and cut into rings or sliced) (optional)
  • 1/2 lb feta cheese, crumbled (or to taste)

Directions :

  1. For the dressing; in a processor or use a wire whisk process/whisk the olive oil with lemon juice, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, garlic, dried, basil, red wine vinegar, salt and sugar until smooth (add in more oregano and lemon juice if needed).
  2. Season with black pepper.
  3. Chill in fridge for a couple of hours before using to blend flavors.
  4. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Pour dressing over; toss to combine.
  6. If desired allow the salad to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving, or you can refrigerate for 1 hour (tossing a few time during sitting time).

* Don’t forget the chicken if you wanted to add it…. just cook it up before you start and let it cool while you prepare your salad.

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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