Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Favorite Pasta Salad | Meal Planning Link-Up

I'm so excited to be joining in with some of my favorite blogger friends today for this little meal planning link-up.  These kind of things are always such a fun way to discover new blogs, and to find some great ideas and inspiration in terms of recipes, in this case.

Every once in awhile, I love to share a favorite recipe of mine here on the blog, and today's recipe is one that I have been making for a long, long time now.

Pasta salad is one of my favorite side dishes/potluck items/foods to make a huge bowl of and keep in the fridge to have for lunch, multiple days in a row.  I'm totally aware that it appeals more to most as a summer dish, but sometimes the mood strikes to indulge in something a little on the lighter side this time a year, as it did this weekend, and I just had to whip up a big batch.

A little background on how this pasta salad recipe came to be...

Growing up, one of my best friend's moms made an absolutely amazing pasta salad. Whenever I was at her house and there was some in their fridge, I would go crazy over it.  The fact that it had grilled chicken and sharp cheddar cheese in it, was all I needed to instantly become obsessed, and my friend and her family were well aware of my addiction to it!

Fast forward to years later... college, adulthood... I would still find myself craving the stuff occasionally.  So, one day, I set out to make a batch myself.  I knew the basics of her recipe from years of being around for the preparation of this salad, so it wasn't hard to remember the necessary ingredients, but here was thing... she had always prepared hers using cucumbers and carrots, neither of which are favorites of mine when it comes to veggies.  This left me wondering, what veggies, that I enjoy, would pair well with the components of this pasta salad recipe that I already loved so much?

I decided to replace the cucumbers and carrots with roasted red peppers and broccoli, and that pretty much sums up how the recipe that I am sharing with you today came to be.

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 packages of Wishbone Italian dressing mix (along with vinegar, oil, and water to prepare it)
1 lb (1 box) of tri-color rotini pasta
1, 8 oz block of sharp yellow cheddar cheese
1 head of brocolli (I always steam mine, but if you like your broccoli raw, go for it)
1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1/2 cup diced red onion


Mix one package of Italian dressing according to directions on package, and pour over chicken in a ziplock bag or large bowl to marinade.
Marinade for at least an hour, if not overnight.
Grill Chicken breasts, allow to cool, and cut into bite size pieces.
Boil pasta until al dente, and allow to cool.
While pasta is cooking, cut cheese into small cubes, and chop/dice peppers and red onion
After steaming broccoli, allow to cool, and chop florets into very small pieces.
Prepare second package of Italian dressing.
Add all ingredients together in a large bowl, and top with about half of the dressing.
Stir until well mixed.
Refrigerate for an hour or more before serving, to allow flavors to blend.
Before serving I always add a bit more dressing to taste, and keep the rest on hand to add over the next few days if salad becomes dry.


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