Pasta Salad with Pesto Grilled Chicken

pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, cooking light, pasta salad with pesto grilled chicken, caroline culwell, the life eclectic

I love pasta, but in the summer heat sometimes a hot, carb-loaded dish is just too heavy. I wanted to make a dish with raw vegetables, chicken, and pasta so I decided that a pasta salad would be perfect. I used Trader Joe’s prepackaged and pre-marinated basil pesto chicken breasts out of ease. But if you do not have access to a Trader Joe’s I estimated the marinade for this basil pesto chicken. I recommend cooking the chicken first to allow it to cool and absorb the flavors even more. I used a George Foreman grill to cook my chicken, but if you have access to a real grill I recommend using that! After I cooked your chicken and pasta, I chop my vegetables and measured out the seasonings and dressing!

pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, cooking light, pasta salad with pesto grilled chicken, caroline culwell, the life eclectic

In a large mixing bowl I combined the cooked pasta, olive oil, and spinach. I mixed my pasta until the orecchiette were fully coated and the spinach was slightly wilted. I cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces to make them easier to eat. Then I added all of the fresh vegetable, chicken pieces, vinegar, and all my seasonings. I tossed the mixture well and then treated myself to a bowl-full!

pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, cooking light, pasta salad with pesto grilled chicken, caroline culwell, the life eclectic

pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, cooking light, pasta salad with pesto grilled chicken, caroline culwell, the life eclectic

pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, cooking light, pasta salad with pesto grilled chicken, caroline culwell, the life eclectic

This recipe is tasty and refreshing! It keeps well in the fridge so it’s the perfect meal to grab when you’re on the run. This recipe makes 4 side dishes or about 2 meals! Enjoy!

Ingredients
-1 & 1/2 cup orecchiette pasta (uncooked)
-2-3 medium chicken breasts
-1 cup spinach
-1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (quartered)
-1/2 cup cucumber (chopped)
-1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
-2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes (chopped)
-2-3 Tbsp olive oil (I used garlic flavored)
-1/4 cup red wine vinegar
-2 tsp minced garlic
-1 tsp dried basil
-1 tsp dried oregano
-s & p (to taste)

Marinade for Chicken
-5 Tbsp basil pesto sauce
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp garlic (minced)
-s & P

Directions
In a ziplock baggie add chicken breasts and the marinade and let them sit for a couple of hours. Marinading these over night helps the chicken to really absorb the flavors. If you are using 3 or more chicken breasts feel free to add more marinade to fully coat each piece. Spray your grill with non-stick pam so that your chicken doesn’t stick. Place each chicken breast on the grill and cook till they are done, about 4 minutes each side. If you’re using a George Foreman grill the chicken will probably need to be cooked longer depending on the temperature you set it on (just keep on eye on them). While the chicken is cooking boil water and add the orecchiette pasta. Once the chicken breasts are done place them on a plate and allow them to cool. Drain the pasta and add it to a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and toss well. While the pasta is still warm, add the spinach to help it wilt a little. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and mix into the pasta salad. Then add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and sun-dried tomatoes. Once the pasta has cooled a little, add red wine vinegar, minced garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, and s & p. Mix well. Serve fresh or place in the fridge for later!

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