Last week my kids and I were out and about town, running errands and making a stop at The Classic Fun Center. That place was brimming with kids roller skating, jumping in the bounce houses and splashing down water slides. Man, was it crowded! Boy was it loud and baby was I seriously beat when we left. All part of good summer time fun, right? We stopped at Costco on the way home to grab a couple of things we needed. I didn’t have a plan for dinner yet (a direct result of summer time fun being in full swing) so I loaded a few things in my cart I hoped would go well with a beautiful bunch of basil I had purchased earlier in the week.
I knew I didn’t want to heat up the oven.
Or the grill.
Or any other part of my existence. (Are you hot? It is so dang hot!)
This Bruschetta Chicken and Pasta Salad is what I ended up with and I am happy (and relieved!) to report that my family absolutely loved it and we had enough left over for a couple of us to eat it for lunch the next day. Hot dang.
If you love the flavors of freshly made bruschetta, crunchy crutons, tender chicken and hearty pasta…I bet you would get a kick out of this salad. You could serve it to your family for a light and refreshing dinner, or take it to your next back yard bbq.
Now, let me show you how to make it happen!
Bruschetta Chicken and Pasta Salad
Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 10 servings
Recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up!
***Note: Please add the crutons and spring mix just before serving to avoid them becoming soggy and just down right gross.
1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta
1 (2 pound) package grape tomatoes
3-4 Tb chopped, fresh basil, loosely packed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2-3 C rotisserie chicken, chopped
8 sticks of mozzarella string cheese
Olive Garden Salad Dressing or Italian dressing of your choice
2-3 C crutons
5 C spring mix salad, chopped
1. Boil some water and cook the penne pasta according to package instructions.
2. Find yourself some fresh basil. They have these pretty basil plants for sale at Wal-Mart and Wynco in the produce section. I used about half of it for this recipe.
3. Slice each grape tomato into 2-3 slices. Toss them into a bowl and add 3-4 tablespoons chopped basil (more if you like), 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Give it a taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking. You can add more basil and balsamic vinegar if you like as well. Get wild and crazy, won’t you? You might as well live on the edge for a minute or two.
4. Slice 8 sticks of mozzarella string cheese into small chunks and add them to the bruschetta.
5. Grab your rotisserie chicken and remove as much meat as you can from the carcass.
Chop it into chunks, you’ll want about 2-3 cups total.
6. Add the chicken and the cooked pasta into the bruschetta bowl. Stir it to combine.
7. Add 1/2-3/4 C Olive Garden Italian Dressing (homemade version here) or other Italian dressing of your choice. I have seen the Olive Garden brand lately at Costso, Sams Club and Walmart.
Toss everything together to combine. Now if you are planning to take this to a party I would cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it chill out in the fridge for a while. Wait to add the spring mix and crutons until you are ready to serve it. You will also want to freshen it up a bit with more salad dressing just before you serve. The pasta tends to soak up a lot of the dressing if it sits for too long.
8. When you are ready to serve grab about 5 cups of Spring Mix lettuce and give it a rough chop. Add it to the pasta/bruschetta mixture.
9. Add 2-3 cups seasoned crutons and toss it all together to combine. Add about 1/2 cup more Italian dressing. Toss it again and give it a taste. Add more dressing to your desired liking.
Serve and enjoy!
You’ve got to love fresh basil this time of year, don’t you? Mmmmm, the smell is divine. Hope you are having a great summer, everyone!