Cool zesty Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta Salad, a perfect protein-packed summer main dish or side dish.
My kids are just about to get out of school for summer break… Where has this spring gone?!
Actually, this whole school year has been a blur. With my daughter in high school and my son in middle school, it has been an endless stream of events, projects, mini dramas, and celebrations.
And did I mention my daughter now has her driver’s permit? Talk about gray hair and anxiety attacks. Whew! I believe I’m just as ready for summer break as they are.
We all need a break this time of year… A break from work that requires us to sit for eight hours a day. Or a break from people and projects that stress us out.
Many of us (me included) even take a break from cooking in the summer.
Ok, ok, I don’t fully give up cooking.
After all we do have to eat, and I get tired of takeout. Yet I do lighten the load, so to speak, and stick with quick make-ahead meals that taste great as leftovers.
In the summer, I like to make larger meals that will feed my family for dinner one night, and then maybe a few more days for lunch. I keep lots of fresh fruit and veggies around for snacks. Then we make quick-grilled dinners when my make-aheads run out.
It keeps everyone well fed and happy, while reducing the amount of time I stand over a hot stove.
Today’s Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta Salad recipe is a fantastic make-ahead or leftover meal. Because this pasta salad includes chicken, it makes a vibrant well-rounded main dish, that can also be served as a side dish.
I like to make this when I have some leftover chicken in the fridge that needs to be used up. Honestly, you can add any kind of cooked chicken to the pasta. Grilled chicken, and even fried chicken pulled off the bone, are good choices.
How To Make Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta Salad
Cook bite-sized pasta according to the instructions on the package. Then drain and rinse the pasta with cold water to cool it down quickly.
Chop up the chicken, jarred sun dried tomatoes, olives, and onions.
Take a few of the sun dried tomatoes and puree them with light mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, and herbs to make a smooth creamy dressing.
The little bit of color and tangy flavor from the sun dried tomatoes makes this dressing really pop.
Toss everything together with some fresh spinach leaves, and you have a huge hit on your hands!
In fact my husband Lt. Dan, who is the absolute worst about eating leftovers, ate this for days without a single complaint. Each day, he’d open the container, tasted it again, and repeat, “This is still really good. Huh.”
Quick, lasting, packed with fresh veggies and protein… What’s not to love?
Our Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta Salad could be the talk of your dinner table this week. Make a batch, and relax the next few days. *wink*
More Summer Pasta Salads
Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta Salad
- 1 pound small dried pasta, any variety
- 2 cups chopped leftover cooked chicken, or rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed
- 7 ounce jar sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 5 ounce jar pitted green olives, halved
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Place a large pot of salted water on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool. Allow the pasta to drain while you prep the remaining ingredients.
- Chop the sun dried tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, crushed red pepper, and 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes in the blender jar. Cover and puree.
- Place the cooled pasta, chopped chicken, spinach, remaining chopped sun dried tomatoes, olives, and onions in a large salad bowl. Add the creamy dressing and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
NOTES: This pasta salad can be made up to 5 days ahead. You can use any variety of pitted olives you like.
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