Zesty Chicken Pasta Salad has a subtle balance of tang to spice with red chili pepper flakes, feta, onion and garlic. Simple, fresh and easy to make, this pasta salad is perfect anytime of year.
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Oh boy what a week it has been. A new man in office with an unbelievable amount of activity happening everyday in this first week and emotions flying allover the place for everyone. Yes, quite a week it has been. During the fervor of processing through emotions, comfort food was definitely on my mind. Somewhere along the line I remembered a pasta salad that I used to eat practically a lifetime ago. Years ago, when I first graduated from high school, I worked in a bakery that sat side by side with a deli. The cook in the deli would make a pasta salad very similar to this Zesty Chicken Pasta Salad recipe and I absolutely adored it. As soon as the memory hit me I knew I had to try to recreate it. This Zesty Chicken Pasta Salad is delicious, easy to make and completely adjustable to taste preferences.
Tips about Zesty Chicken Pasta Salad:
- I really love the simplicity of this pasta salad but to pack even more nutrition in, add your favorite veggies. As I was making this the idea of broccoli, different colored bell peppers and tomatoes came to mind.
- The secret to perfectly cooked pasta is to boil it in plenty of heavily salted water until al dente (almost done).
- I baked a whole chicken and used half of it for this Zesty Chicken Pasta Salad but baked chicken breasts or thighs would work well also.
- I used a heaping teaspoon of red chili pepper flakes for my pasta salad. The feta really does help to balance out the spice but for just a hint of heat stick with 1/2 tsp.
- Use your favorite type of bean. I used organic adzuki beans but cannellini beans or great northern beans would work beautifully also.
- Remember to add the spinach last to prevent wilting.
- 1 lb Rigatoni noodles
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2-1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
- 2-3 garlic cloves *minced or crushed
- 1 cup feta
- 1/2 med red onion *diced, about 1 cup
- 15 oz can favorite beans
- 2 1/2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 8 oz spinach
- Cook pasta according to directions on package in heavily salted water to the point of al dente.
- Meanwhile whisk together oil, vinegar, red chili pepper flakes and garlic. Stir in feta, onion and chicken. Rinse and drain beans, stir into mixture. Mix in cooked pasta. Let cool for about 5-10 mins and stir in spinach.
This recipe is part of Meal Plan Monday.
If you love pasta salads than check out these recipes.