Want a great salad to accompany your Labor Day picnic? This salad is not only delicious but stretches to accommodate a crowd. And it’s so easy to carry with you to a relatives or friends house to help with mealtime. It always gets rave reviews and it’s pretty good for you too!
The best time to prepare this salad is alongside your grilled dinner the night before. This works great on a Saturday or Sunday night for lunches during the week too.
Balsamic Chicken and Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
- 1 ½ cups Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, divided
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 3/4 cup combination of yellow, red & green bell pepper, cut in quarters
- 10-ounces penne pasta (gluten-free or quinoa pasta is great for those on a GF diet)
- ½ Tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
- 2 cups firmly packed fresh spinach, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place chicken in a ziploc bag with 1 cup of balsamic vinaigrette. Shake to cover chicken then marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
While chicken is marinating, chop tomatoes and basil and put in Ziploc bag together and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade, then grill chicken for 6 minutes on each side until cooked through. Cool then chop into pieces.
Place pepper quarters on grill and cook about 2 minutes on each side. Let cool then dice.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and ¾ cup cheese. Let cool 10 minutes .
Toss together pasta, chicken, spinach, tomato basil mixture, peppers and remaining balsamic dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Wine Pairings: This dish is very flavorful and on the acidic side so pairing with an acidic wine like Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect accompaniment. A Petit Sirah or Chianti will work as well.