by Dana B. Bryant
Are you looking for a make-ahead dish that's eye-catching enough to bring to a party and simply enough you won't sigh and dread preparing it?
We've found a recipe that fulfills your wishes. You might have to do a bit more than wave a magic wand, though.
Loaded with fresh vegetables, lean chicken and healthy olive oil, it's a health-conscious mom's dream come true. Unless you share that fact, no one will guess. They'll be busy raving about the taste and crunch and color.
Connie's Chicken Pasta Salad
Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes | Yield: 6 servings
• 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• 2 cups uncooked shell pasta
• 1 cup chopped tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes
• 1 cup chopped bell pepper
• 4 ounces sharp cheddar, chopped or shredded
• 1/2 cup chopped green onions
• 1 cup chopped cucumber
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 6 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons dill weed
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in olive oil until done. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. When the chicken and pasta are cool, mix in a large bowl with the vegetables and cheese.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together. Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate a few hours or overnight for best flavor.
With just a couple substitutions, you can give the salad a Mediterranean flavor. Use 1/4 cup crumbled feta instead of cheddar, switch out the green onions for thinly sliced red onions and add 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes and 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil, cut into strips.
A special thanks to Connie, aka cmljll, for sharing her recipe.