I'm really not going to bore you with a lot of details today. Get some of those spiraly noodles and have at it! It's really a perfect pairing to any backyard BBQ this summer, and even better the next day at work for lunch. Trust me, I just had it at my desk.
But I will tell you one thing before I get to the recipe. The Parmesan is KEY. This pasta salad is all about the textures you combine. When I was making the salad again last night for Ethan and I, a wine glass of ours broke all over the freshly grated Parmesan I prepared for it. According to Dr. Ethan, DO NOT risk eating food that had glass shards in it. Like, even if you think you got it all. Even a minuscule piece could ruin your insides. I won't go into much more detail than that. But all I can say is that we had to eat without the cheese and it was definitely not the same. You must drive yourself to the store if you break a glass in your cheese. It is an integral partner to this flavor pallet.
So here's what you need for a new family favorite, Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- 1 package rotini pasta. Also known as spiral pasta. You can use fusilli too.
- 1.5 cups Parmesan (from the package or freshly grated)
- 8 oz grape tomatoes
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- 1 cup light Cesar dressing. I used Ken's Steakhouse dressing. You want it to be oil based. Not creamy
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Once hot, put in 2-3 chicken breasts that have been salted and peppered. Cook according to the package. Generally, if it is frozen it'll take 40-45 minutes. If they are thawed, it'll take about 20-25 minutes.
- Get 6 quarts of water boiling. As an old cooking teacher once said to me, "You want to salt the water for the pasta as if it were swimming in the sea"
- While the water is boiling for the pasta, cut all your grape tomatoes in half. Also wash and thoroughly dry the lettuce. Then shred the lettuce.
- Cook your pasta according the package once the water is boiling. This will take 7-9 minutes.
- Grate your cheese, if needed.
- Once you have all your ingredients prepared. Make sure the pasta has cooled and you have shredded your chicken. Here's a good way how to do that .... USE YOUR FINGERS!
- Now it's just a matter of getting a big bowl, dumping in all the ingredients, and tossing them in your dressing.
- If you want to kick it up a notch, serve with lemon wedges. And don't just stare at the wedges use them when you sit down.
Last minute pro tips for left overs:
- If you know you won't be able to eat all of this in one sitting, I suggest you keep the lettuce out of the bowl when you toss in the dressing. Keep it to the side and put the pasta on top when serving up individually.
- When taking it to work, or storing for later, make sure you put in the pasta part first and the lettuce on top. It will keep from wilting that way.
And there you have it! A quick and simple, filling side dish. Or really, a whole meal.
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Eat well! Be well, my friends!