Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Salad Marathon: Chicken Pasta Salad

It is very hot here, and that means I like to keep as far away from the stove/oven as possible. So that means we've been eating a lot of salad. I find salad making very tedious and usually delegate that chore to my husband. However, when the main dish is a salad, I find ample opportunities for creativity and experimentation.

I started with this recipe from Real Simple (August 2008), Chicken Salad with Potatoes & Arugula, but found that I was without arugula and just simply not in the mood for potatoes, so I lifted the dressing and the rotisserie chicken, substituted dried tarragon for fresh, and turned it into
Chicken Pasta Salad with Hearts of Palm

  • 1 package fresh or dried pasta (I like rotini or some other shape that will capture the goodies)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (or chicken leftovers)--you'll probably only need half a chicken's worth
  • 2-3 large hearts of palm, sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1-2 tablespoons champagne white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper
  • Cook pasta (approx 2 min. for fresh, longer for dried (see package directions) and strain in a colander. Run cool water over the pasta and let drain.
  • Shred half of the meat of the rotisserie chicken into a bowl and mix in the hearts of palm. Add cooled pasta and place in the fridge.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the evoo, vinegar, mustard, tarragon and salt & pepper.
  • When ready to serve, add dressing and walnuts to the pasta, tossing well.*
*You may wish to dress the salad and then refrigerate it. This is fine, but may need a fresh bit of olive oil right before serving (or let it stand at room temp before serving).

I liked the walnuts because they added texture and helped cut the vinegar/mustard/hearts of palm brine. It is a unique context for chicken salad, so I wouldn't try it on the unadventurous who like their chicken salad traditionally prepared. I think I'd add some red onion next time, for the sake of COLOR :)

I served this salad with Green Beans with Shiitake Mushrooms that Bon App├ętit either ripped off from IGDA (mushroom company) or the other way around. I used the recipe that came with a package of dried shiitake mushrooms from IGDA, but I used fresh shiitakes since I happened to pick them up at the store. If you use dried, you'll need to soak them in a bowl of warm water for 20-30 minutes, rinsing thoroughly.