Southwest Chicken Pasta Salad
Having just returned from a dental adventure up north (involving consumption of much seafood) I was feeling a bit taco-deficient. So, channeling my inner-Mexican — which, incidentally, does not exist — gave birth to this fun and summer-friendly pasta salad.
An important part of this recipe involves roasting bell peppers. Now, if you search, “How to roast a pepper,” you will find myriad ways to accomplish this task, so, if you don’t like my method, DON’T DESPAIR!! The Google can provide you with an acceptable alternative.
My chosen method of pepper roasting involves the toaster oven, God’s gift to modern man. Simply line your toaster oven rack with aluminum foil and preheat to 425 degrees farenheit. Spray or rub your peppers with olive oil, and carefully place them on the foil-lined rack. Roast peppers for ~30-40 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes (USING TONGS, NOT FINGERS), until skins are blistered and peppers appear shriveled. Turn off toaster oven, open door, and let peppers cool 20 minutes before attempting to handle them. Once cooled, remove peppers to a cutting board, and peel off the blistered skins. You’ll notice the peppers slosh a bit as you move them…that’s because they’re now full of (HOT!) water. Carefully cut peppers open, trying not to let the hot gastric pepper-juices pour all over you and your counter. Remove seeds and stems, and chop peppers coarsely. If this seems like too much work, you can certainly buy roasted peppers, but where’s the fun in that?!
The mix-in possibilities for this salad are limitless! That is, they are limitless if you aren’t cooking for a slightly picky eater. Personally, I would also include chopped fresh tomatoes, black olives, diced onion, and shredded lettuce…but that’s just me. Add whatever you like! Cilantro is also totally on the table, but it tastes like soap to me, so it’s not on my table.
Southwest Chicken Pasta Salad
16 oz. dry macaroni
1/4 cup roasted red pepper olive oil vinaigrette
15 oz. can corn and bean salad (if you can’t find this specific item, substitute one whole can of chili beans and 1/2 cup corn kernels, either thawed or rinsed from a can)
2 roasted bell peppers, coarsely chopped (read post above for instructions)
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
6 oz. cooked chicken breast, sliced (you can buy this pre-cooked/-slice or make it yourself..your call!)
Roast bell peppers as directed above (or using your own preferred method), and let cool. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta thoroughly, and toss with vinaigrette. Add chopped peppers, bean and corn salad, and chicken. Toss to thoroughly combine ingredients. Chill ~10 minutes, then toss in the cubed cheese. Transfer to a large serving bowl, and enjoy as a hearty side dish or a light dinner. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Also makes a great bring-to-work lunch!