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.
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Smoky Chicken, Peppers, and Spinach Pasta Salad
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, 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 there’s great texture contrast from the soft pasta, moist and juicy chicken, crunchy vegetables, and it’s versatile. Serve it warm or chilled and it’s great for potlucks, picnics, and parties. It’s healthy, perfect for busy nights, and work or school lunches.
- 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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Can this be made the night before? Will it get too soggy? Looking for something I can make ahead of party time.
I think you’ll be fine making the night before but if you’re really concerned you may want to make a test batch before your event.
Yum this sounds really delicious. I love trying new recipes from blogs. Thanks for sharing :-)
I’m with you! I love bell peppers <3 My younger sister hates them (especially the green one), but I love love it. Almost drooled over my keyboard, because of your photos haha.. Definitely bookmarking this one to make it. Yum! Can't wait ^^
Finally made this for dinner tonight. Fabulous! My kiddos loved it too. Definitely a winner!
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you!
I usually don’t like spinach but this looks amazing :)
This made a fantastic lunch–love the sauce with smoked paprika–it really adds depth! My kale is coming in like gangbusters so I used that instead of spinach. We liked it so much I’m thinking about making it again Monday!
Thanks for trying this one today, Paula, and glad to hear you may make it again! And lucky you to have homegrown kale! Wish you could send me some :)
Love everything about this dish! Pinned!
Thanks for pinning :)
Averie you keep hitting it out of the park with these chicken recipes! This is another winner!
Thanks for the compliments and it’s new blog territory for me and it’s been fun to blog about these!
I am loving all these savory recipes! I ate my way through about 5 bags of those mini peppers in Arizona. I forgot how cheap the produce is there! I ate so many cukes, peppers, and tomatoes…..everything here is at least twice the price. Shameful.
I have to go to a potluck on Wed and wasn’t sure what to bring, but this looks perfect and EASY. I was thinking about a black bean -pepper type of dish, so maybe just replace the pasta with beans and call it good. I LOVE paprika, but never think to use is. Again, shameful. ;)
I have like 20 more of these recipes before the summer is over. In fact, I just made another one :) You could easily replace the pasta with something like beans or quinoa if you’re trying to keep it GF. I forgot if you like quinoa or not? I just made something with it that turned out amazing :)
Glad you got your peppers and produce in on the cheap!
Looks delicious! I definitely have to give this recipe a try!
Totally need this for dinner!! Pinned!
Thanks for pinning and have been loving your travel posts and pics the past few days. So pretty!!
This pasta salad just says summer! What a perfect side dish for Memorial Day weekend!
I love love smoked paprika. What a great way to feature it and add a twist and zip to the idea of
pasta salad. I like the use of the chicken in the salad too. Definitely a main dish!!!
Averie this looks so delicious!! Love all the flavors going on here!
Oh this looks so fabulous….and hooray for a mayo-free dressing that sounds SO flavorful. I will absolutely be trying this summer.
While I love looking at all of your sweet treats I honestly don’t bake much so LOVE your run of chicken/savory recipes lately!! :)
Glad you’re enjoying the savory options!
I am so with you on the peppers and the smoked paprika! Love that this recipe uses two heaping teaspoons. Smoked paprika is one of my favorite flavors of all time! *pinned*
Thanks for pinning and glad you’re as big of a smoked paprika fan as I am!
I love to make big batches of our favorite recipes too! We love leftovers at our house! So much quicker to pack lunches with leftovers…
Amen to leftovers and easy lunch-packing!
This looks so good!! Peppers = yum, smoked paprika =love, pasta = yes please!! Plus it’s a salad – so I can eat as much of it as I like = thank you!! Pinned!
Thanks for pinning!
This salad looks incredible!
Averie this is making me so hungry! It looks delicious, I’m going to have to try it out!
YESSSS to smoked paprika! I am pretty sure that I put it in ALL the things! I’ve never tried it in pasta salad though …but, umm, my face needs IT. Pinned!
Thanks for pinning and you’re going to love the smoked paprika in pasta!
I can’t wait to try this one either– I love the run of chicken and shrimp recipes! I could pull it off today if I had some unthawed chicken so it’s on my radar for later in the week.
I think you’ll love this one, Paula! I know you like smoked paprika and all these flavors so LMK how it goes if you try it!
Averie – I shouldn’t be trusted around pasta salad. I tend to want to eat it all. I’m working on the portion control thing, but it’s a struggle. I love that this pasta salad is balanced out with chicken and veggies. This would be perfect for a picnic this summer. :)
Perfect picnic food and pasta salads like this are WAY too easy for me to go crazy on. With that fusili pasta it just absorbs everything and has so much flavor and so easy to dig into!
I’m with you on pepper. Have you ever had pepper jelly? The stuff is crazy addictive for any pepper addict.
This looks delicious. I’m fond of rotini, too. It holds on to all the good stuff! And the chicken looks super flavorful!
Not only have I had hot pepper jelly (I keep TJs in BUSINESS) but I make my own, twice!!