Smoky Chicken, Peppers, and Spinach Pasta Salad
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Bell peppers are one of my favorite vegetables. They’re crispy, crunchy, juicy, and are sweet-with-heat.
It’s no wonder I also love smoked paprika which is made from smoked and ground red peppers.
This fast and easy recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes has red peppers, orange peppers, and smoked paprika. If you’re a pepper lover like me, you’ve hit the pepper jackpot.
The tangy, sweet, peppery, and smoky sauce the chicken cooks in is poured over and tossed with rotini pasta, spinach, and peppers. I used vegetable rotini to keep things healthier and because I love pasta salads that use rotini. The kid in me says that some shapes just taste better and rotini is that shape.
There’s great texture contrast from the soft pasta, moist and juicy chicken, crunchy vegetables, and it’s versatile. You can increase the overall recipe yield and the vegetable quotient by adding carrots, edamame, green onions, sugar snap peas, red cabbage, or other favorite veggies.
You can serve it warm or chilled for a cold pasta salad making it great for potlucks, picnics, and parties.
It’s healthy, perfect for busy nights, and makes a big batch which is great for planned leftovers and work or school lunches for the week.
- 12 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used vegetable rotini)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauce + 1 tablespoon for cooking chicken
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 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 1/2 to 2 cups (2 heaping handfuls) fresh spinach leaves , sliced thinly (chiffonade)
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
- 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and diced small
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, place in a large bowl, and set aside.
- To a medium bowl or large measuring cup, add the honey, vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and stir 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.
- Carefully add the sauce, noting that it may bubble up in the first few seconds. Allow sauce 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. You’ll still have quite a bit of sauce in the pan after 3 to 4 minutes which is good because there’s a lot of pasta and vegetables to coat. Allow chicken to rest in pan off the heat while you chop the spinach and peppers.
- Add the spinach, peppers, chicken and all the sauce to the bowl of pasta and stir well to combine. Taste and check for seasoning balance, making any necessary adjustments. Dish can be served warm immediately or can be served as a cold pasta salad. Will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days. Serve cold or reheat gently prior to serving if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 301Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 736mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 17gProtein: 27g
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