Bonus #SundayCookingAdventures: Chicken-Penne Salad

2014-07-13 20.28.27

I first posted this recipe in June of last year, before many of you were following me. I made it again today, and my sister (Hi, Linda!) didn’t remember my original posting. It’s buried on Facebook, so I thought I’d dig it back up because it’s a good summer salad. I like it because you can make it as easy or as hard as you want, and the it’s easy to change up the ingredients and still have a great salad. You can mix it up as much as you want.

There can be a minimal amount of cooking here.

I like to roast or grill the chicken before I put it in the salad because it results in a lot more flavor. I also add spices and herbs to the chicken when I cook it. For the one I made today, I used garlic powder, black pepper (lots of it), basil, thyme and marjoram. I also used some chicken seasoning (a low sodium variety). I left the skin on the chicken (I had asked the butcher to remove the bones). I put the spices under the skin and on the back of the chicken and roasted it for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. I hated turning on the oven, but I did it in the morning before our non-air-conditioned house got too warm.

You could buy a rotisserie kitchen if you didn’t want to turn on the stove. You could also just microwave it, but microwaving the chicken really diminishes your opportunity for taste. I don’t recommend it. Finally, you could poach the chicken. Add some onions, garlic, and other flavor enhancers to the water before you put the chicken in, and simmer on a low heat until done.

If you don’t want to use pasta, you could substitute another grain — maybe you have some leftover rice you could use (again, use brown or wild rice for more fiber).

There is nothing difficult about this, but there are several steps. Cooking the chicken and shredding it, cooking the green beans and pasta (I used whole wheat, it has a lot of fiber), and then a fair amount of chopping — onions, roasted red peppers, fresh basil and parsley.

This recipe calls for green beans, and you could substitute other vegetables. You don’t have to cook them, but I like to at least soften them a little, and you could do that by steaming them or putting them in the microwave.

I don’t use any vinegar in the dressing, I use all lemon juice, and I cut back on the olive oil. because I like the flavor better. There are a lot of ways to change this recipe up — I’m considering using asparagus next time. If you try it, let me know how you adjust it, or please share your ideas on what you would do differently.

Below is the original recipe with my adjustments noted. Make it your own!

Chicken-Penne Salad with Green Beans

2 cups uncooked penne (tube-shaped) pasta
2 cups fresh green beans (about 1/2 pound)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I use more like, half a cup)
1 (7-ounce) bottle roasted red bell pepper, drained and cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I don’t use this)
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt (I didn’t use this)
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (I omit — it’s kind of strong)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1) Cook pasta in boiling water 7 minutes. Add green beans; cook 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.
2) Combine pasta mixture, chicken, onion, basil, parsley, and bell pepper in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.
3) Combine oil and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat.

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