As the temperatures rise, my desire to cook large meals wanes. Most of the summer includes grilled meals and side dishes that can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
This Chicken Pasta Salad is a refreshing dish that can be served as a main dish for lunch or dinner. I use diced cooked chicken breasts for this Chicken Pasta Salad, but feel free to substitute shredded chicken.
Leftover grilled chicken breasts are delicious in this recipe. I recommend using a bottled lemon based marinade or seasoning the chicken with dried spices such as lemon pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, parsley flakes, and seasoning salt before grilling them.
For the Chicken Pasta Salad that’s pictured here, I baked a pan of chicken breasts, that I seasoned with the dried spices mentioned above. Before sprinkling the seasonings onto the meat, I spray both sides of the chicken breasts with a little cooking oil, and then coat them well with the seasonings mentioned.
Bake the chicken breasts on a foil lined cookie sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 – 30 minutes or until completely cooked through. The cooking time will depend on how thick the chicken breasts are, but they should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part. Let the breasts rest for 10 minutes and then dice them into 1/2 inch bite sized pieces.
I used Penne Pasta for this Chicken Pasta Salad, but any pasta will work so use your favorite sturdy pasta. I recommend cooking the pasta until al dente since I prefer a firmer texture and the dressing will soak into the pasta. A pasta that’s cooked until it’s soft, could be slightly mushy on day two from the dressing.
Since I don’t always have access to fresh tarragon and basil, I used the dried herbs that I always have in my spice cabinet. If you have fresh herbs, chop them up finely and taste the pasta dish as you go to ensure that the amount in the finished dish is perfect.
My husband isn’t a fan of mayonnaise, so over the years, I have substituted half of the mayonnaise for plain Greek yogurt. Feel free to swap out all of the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt if preferred or even sour cream.
I hope that you’ll try this recipe today and leave a comment below. Also, for daily updates, follow @lifeabovethecafe on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest using the social media icons found on this page.
The prep and cook time doesn’t include the chicken breasts cook time since I use leftover chicken. Add more time if necessary.
Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. As the pasta cooks, dice the cooked chicken up, and wash and dice the celery, cucumber, tomatoes, and green onions. Warm the lemon up for 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave and then cut in half and juice it into a bowl (microwaving helps it to release more juice).
Drain the pasta and pour it into a large bowl. Add 1/2 of the mayonnaise and lemon juice along with half of the seasonings and stir gently so that the pasta isn’t broken up.
Next add the diced chicken, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, and green onions to the bowl of pasta. Add more mayonnaise (until everything seems well coated) additional lemon juice and the other half of the seasonings to taste. Stir well, being careful not to break up the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Serve right away or chill in the refrigerator and serve when completely cooled.
Note – if you don’t care for mayonnaise you can substitute plain Greek yogurt. The leftovers are delicious so this is a perfect dish to make ahead of time for gatherings. This recipe is great if made with gluten free pasta.