July 12, 2011

Chicken Pasta Salad: Updated Church Potluck Edition

This creamy pasta salad with a kick got passed around on the official  ladies' luncheon circuit in the church where I grew up. Last year my friends and I discovered why it was so popular and started making it for picnics and such in the summer. The creamy oil-and-vinegar dressing  melds with finely chopped onion and bell pepper, parsley and veggies for a uniquely delicious and refreshing main dish.

To lighten and enhance the original potluck recipe with its tons of mayo and oil, I subbed Greek yogurt for some of the mayo, stepped the vinegar up to red wine vinegar, make the oil olive oil, and cut it the oil quantity. You can take the basic recipe and make it your own; I just recommend you don't leave out the Creole seasoning and dill.
This photo op was at a picnic shower a friend and I threw for a baby whose arrival we are anticipating any day now and her lovely mother. The great thing about pasta salad is that you can make it ahead of time, and it's all ready to go at party time. The recipe makes a ton and requires a giant bowl to toss, so be forewarned. Leftovers only get better...until the chicken gets old that is.

Chicken Pasta Salad: Updated Church Potluck Edition

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked al dente
6 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 bell pepper, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cups broccoli florets, cut small
3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 small jars chopped pimiento, drained
Creamy Dressing with a Kick (see below)

Prepare all ingredients through pimiento. Cool completely noodles and chicken completely. While chicken cooks and noodles are cooking and cooling, chop vegetables.
Mix chicken, noodles, and vegetables with dressing. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The flavors will meld better overnight.

Add other veggies such as water chestnuts, cauliflower, mushrooms, and toasted almonds for variety.

Creamy Dressing with a Kick

½ cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. dried dill weed
1 ½ Tbsp. Creole seasoning like Tony Chachere’s
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper

Mix oil, vinegar, and mayonnaise with a whisk. Mix other ingredients in and again blend well with whisk.

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