Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad - An Easter Favorite

Every year I say this, but it's true…
Easter is a favorite holiday of mine!

Memories of shiny shoes and new Easter dresses, Easter egg hunts with all my friends, followed by games...and the special dinner mom would make come to mind.

It's hard to let go of the past and the happiness of being a child. I would say there's nothing wrong with that! (you should see me at Disneyland!) As an adult I tried to incorporate those special feelings into our Easter gatherings as well. For many years I would invite all our friends and set up a wonder party in the courtyard. I would typically make the main course and dessert, while others would bring the side dishes. Potluck style if you will. With the variety of friends we always got so many varied family favorites which made for a wonderful feast. We got to try passed down recipes from wonderful cooks, ethnic dishes which are traditional to their families celebrations, and regional dishes from around the country.

One item that I recall gracing our table quite often was from my long time girlfriend Lynn. She made Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad for many occasions that it became a 'must have' at our parties. This is super simple to make and very tasty, plus you can adjust it to feed a crowd or a small group of family and friends.

There is something about tradition and the recipes that surround it. You will find that food is associated with certain feelings and they can bring back memories to enjoy over again. This year, I decided to make Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad for you, to share with on Easter. Bring it to a potluck, or gathering. It's so easy to transport and it keeps well in the refrigerator for several days….if it lasts that long!

Lynn was always partial to leaves so her pasta was always leaf shaped. I switched it up a bit and found some wonderful Easter shaped multicolored pasta from World Market Cost Plus that was just perfect for my dish. The shapes just add that little extra something, but this can be made with another size or shape you prefer!

Feel free to jazz this up with your choice of vegetables, olive, cheese, or whatever! I kept this in line with Lynn's original recipe here but it certainly is a basis for lots of variety.

I'd love to here what your favorite Easter dishes are. What do you love to make over and over again?

Happy Easter, and enjoy Lynn's pasta salad!

Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad

Serves 8-10

1 lb. pasta, any shape
Olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, roasted or poached
8 oz of cherry tomatoes
1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper
3 Tablespoons of chives or green onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons of parsley, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup Newman's Own Italian dressing

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. NOTE: Make sure to keep the pasta al dente otherwise you will end up with overcooked mushy pasta salad. Drain and place in a large bowl. Immediately toss with several tablespoons of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking. Allow to cool about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cut up the chicken in bite sized pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half. Core the bell pepper, removing ribs and seeds. Slice into small to medium dice pieces. Add to the cooled pasta.

Add chives and parsley. Stir to combine all ingredients. Pour dressing over pasta and stir to incorporate. You may serve at room temperature or chill and serve later.

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