Italian Chicken Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is easy, ready in 20 minutes, and showcases some of my favorite (summer) ingredients.
However, I eat tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil year-round. Love them.
That’s my go-to trifecta for salads, but everything just tastes so much better in the summer. There’s flavor and texture galore in every bite of this dish.
Tender chicken, al dente pasta, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, the peppery bite of basil, salty parmesan cheese, all perfumed with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Italian seasoning.
It’s healthy, perfect for busy nights, and makes a big enough batch that you can have some planned leftovers for work or school lunches.
You can serve it warm or chilled and since there’s no mayo, it’s great for potlucks, picnics, and parties.
Italian Chicken Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is easy, ready in 20 minutes, and showcases some of my favorite ingredients. There’s flavor and texture galore in every bite of this dish. Tender chicken, al dente pasta, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, the peppery bite of basil, salty parmesan cheese, all perfumed with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Italian seasoning. It’s healthy, perfect for busy nights, and makes a big enough batch that you can have planned leftovers for work or school lunches. You can serve it warm or chilled and since there’s no mayo, it’s great for potlucks, picnics, and parties.
- 12 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used tri-color rotini)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauce + 1 tablespoon for cooking chicken
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- about 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced (cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half, or your favorite tomatoes may be substituted)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves (laid loosely in measuring cup), sliced thinly
- 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, or more if desired
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, place in a large bowl, and set aside.
- To a medium bowl or large measuring cup, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice (zest the lemon before juicing it), apple cider vinegar, honey, Italian seasoning, lemon lest, salt, pepper, and whisk to combine; set sauce aside.
- To a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, add chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, flipping intermittently so all sides cook evenly. Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts and sizes of pieces. Chicken should be about 90% cooked through.
- Add the sauce and allow it to bubble at a medium-fast boil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce has reduced some and chicken is cooked through. Stir sauce and flip chicken intermittently throughout. Add chicken and any cooking liquid to the pasta bowl.
- Add the tomatoes, basil, cucumber, cheese, and toss gently to combine. Taste and check for seasoning balance, making any necessary adjustments (more Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, pinch of cayenne, splash of lemon juice, etc.) before serving. Will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. Serve cold or reheat gently prior to serving if desired.
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