Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

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The Scoop:

Before we talk about this pasta salad, let’s talk about talking.  Like actual conversation.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?  Talking is way people communicated in the olden days.  Back before cell phones, and computers, and texting, and facebook, and blogs, and twitter, and instagram.  Talking involves sitting down with a person, looking them in the eye, and using your words to describe your thoughts and feelings.  Do you remember this?  From a past life?  It used to be a thing.

Is it ironic that I’m talking about the lost art of communication and true human interaction on my internet blog?

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Last Friday I braved the afternoon traffic out of the city, and drove to Jersey for a BBQ celebrating my friend Calvin’s graduation from his MBA program.  The evening was full of good food and lots of laughter, but the highlight was surely the 3 hours we spent at the end of the night just sitting around the campfire talking.  That’s right, nobody was checking emails, updating their facebook status, or lost in a texting conversation.  It was just 7 people, some flames, some s’mores, some beers, and the best dang conversation I’ve had in months.  It was refreshing.  As I sat there connecting with friends, some that I barely knew, I was reminded of how much we as humans really do crave that personal interaction.

Speaking of things I crave, the second that the warm weather rolls around pasta salads shoot straight to the top of  the “foods I can’t get enough of” list.  There are so many different flavor combinations to try, all inspired by the freshness of the season.  I especially love this chicken pesto salad because  the addition of the meat makes it  hearty enough to be a meal, yet the fact that it’s still a pasta salad qualifies it as a side dish.  I actually brought this as a side salad to serve at Cal’s BBQ this  past weekend and found it to be the perfect accompaniment to the burgers and hot dogs.  So whether you are looking for a well rounded lunch or the perfect summer side, I think this might be just the recipe you need.

You’ll notice there are no nuts in my pesto recipe.  You may have even noticed the lack of nuts on the blog in general.  Well, I have a tree nut allergy that results in nasty rashes and swollen lips, and Roommate has a tree nut/peanut allergy that results in an inability to breath… so yeah, we avoid those around here.  In case you were wondering.

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The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb short grain pasta
  • 1/2 lb cooked  chicken, sliced
  • 4 oz block Parmesean cheeses,  cut into 1 inch blocks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 12 oz can roasted red peppers, drained
  • 12 oz can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 12 oz cherry tomatoes

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The Deets:

Cook your favorite short grain pasta according to package instructions, drain, and set aside to cool.  I used a curly pasta, but bow ties, penne, and rigatoni are other good options for pasta salad.

In the bowl of a food processor fit with a steel blade, add the Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, and a sprinkling of salt.  Pulse the food processor about 20 times, then let it run for about a minute.  The ingredients should be finely minced and well combined when you shut it off.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then reattach the lid and turn the processor back on.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the spout of the food processor as it continues to run and you’ll see the pesto start to come together.  Once all  of the oil has been added, run the  food processor for another minute.  Turn  the food processor off and set  the pesto aside.

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On a cutting board, chop the roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and cooked chicken  into bite sized pieces.  The Purdue Short Cut chicken was on sale, so I used  that this time, but rotisserie chicken or a pan friend chicken breast will do  the trick as well.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, chicken and pesto.  Use two wooden spoons  to toss all  of the ingredients, making sure they are well coated in the pesto.  Chill the pasta salad until  ready to serve.

The Inspiration:

This is an original recipe.

Looking for other great summer pasta salads?  Give my favorite Citrus Pasta Salad, Farmer’s Market Tortellini Salad , or Tomato Mushroom Cous Cous a try!

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PS: Don’t drop the empty glass artichoke jar on your foot.  It’ll result in a nasty bruise that will limit your shoe options for the next 2 weeks.  Not that I would do that or anything…

XOXO,

Tall One

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