24 July 2009

Chicken, Cherry Tomato and Baby Spinach Whole Wheat Penne Pasta Salad with Creamy Parmesan Basil Dressing

This is one of those true clean out the fridge and pantry recipes that only happen by accident. With a little leftover buttermilk, a ton of fresh garden basil, a container of leftover shredded chicken, and a handful of dried whole wheat penne, I decided to make one of those perennial American salads that so often grace the tables at outdoor BBQs and potluck soirees.

I don't really like to admit it, but I love pasta salads, even those swimming in fake "Italian" dressing or covered with bits of salami and cheddar cheese cubes. There's something comforting and familiar about them, even if I would never make them myself. This recipe is an ode to the great American side dish often found next to the potato salad or good old apple pie.

Creamy Parmesan Basil Dressing

2 tbsp. buttermilk
2 tbsp. nonfat Greek yogurt (Chobani, Fage, etc.)
1 tbsp. finely chopped basil
1 tsp. lemon juice (I also added a tiny pinch of zest)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or food processor.
2. Chill before tossing with pasta salad ingredients. Yields about 1/2 cup.

Chicken, Cherry Tomato and Baby Spinach Whole Wheat Penne Pasta Salad

3/4 cup dried whole wheat penne pasta (farfalle or rotini also works)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (I used mixed variety heirlooms)
1/2 cup torn baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup leftover shredded chicken
1 batch Creamy Parmesan Basil dressing

1. Cook the pasta according to package specifications and let cool before tossing with rest of ingredients.
2. Combine remaining ingredients (except dressing) with pasta.
3. Pour dressing over pasta mixture and toss to combine. Chill before serving.


Cucinista said...

Wow, your salad looks fantastic. I'm totally with you on the Italian salad thing -- so thanks for making up a dressing that's a little bit lighter and less likely to make me keel over before my time.

Jessica@FoodMayhem said...

Ooh,another way to use my beloved Fage...haha

EMC said...

I've been using the non-fat Fage in every recipe that calls for anything creamy. I even mix in a little lemon juice when I need sour cream!!

Pam said...

This looks and sounds so creamy and delicious! I love that you used WW penne.

Katerina said...

I actually really don't like pasta salads, or anything really, with Italian dressing. However this looks fresh and delicious. Love the use of buttermilk.