Inspired by a Costco salad, this Greek Pasta Chicken salad is a little more work, but a lot more taste. It’s not as fast as dumping salad out of a large plastic container onto a plate; however, it’s much more fresh and delicious. Not to mention that it’s super easy. I mean, you:
- can get all the ingredients at Trader Joe’s;
- only have to cook the pasta (even my 14-year-old nephew can do that);
- can add or subtract ingredients, depending on what you like. (So, it’s like the low-maintenance dish for the high-maintenance family.)
Plus, this salad is a hit at parties. We served it at Claire’s baby shower. People were suspicious because it looked “so healthy;” but, it was also gone in a flash. I think it’s safe to say they liked it!
Here’s the deal: You need to buy the following ingredients. I’d say all grocery stores have them, but I have a special place in my heart for TJ’s.
First, put some water to boil and add the pasta.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, wash your veggies and start slicing and dicing.
My husband and I have an ongoing debate about how to slice a bell pepper. His way sucks (sorry, hon, but it does), so I’ll show two other ways go about it.
One: Slice off the top and bottom.
Then just pull out the seeds and slice away.
Two: Slice off one side so that you can steady the bell pepper on one side.
Then repeat on the other 3 sides before slicing away.
You can use any kind of tomatoes. I love cherry maters. They are crisp, you don’t have to take the seeds out, and you only have to slice them in half.
Then dice up half of the red onion. Or the whole thing if you are into onion breath. Your call, I don’t judge.
I’m really into rinsing out any kind of food that comes in a can or jar. It gets rid of a lot of the sodium and then you don’t have to deal with the taste of the brine.
I like to cut artichoke hearts into quarters. If you don’t usually eat them, you are about to discover a new favorite. They are so yummy!
Like I said, I’m into rinsing out food. Now, you can season and bake chicken breast to then cool and add to the salad. But that’s so. much. work. and this salad is meant to be easy. If you wan to go all out, I suggest using Trader Joe’s everyday seasoning or lemon pepper seasoning.
Don’t worry about losing the salt from the pitted kalamata olives.
The low-fat feta cheese is plenty salty. This is the last of your slicing – woot! Just cut the cheese into strips…
and break it apart into small chunks.
Rinse the pasta :) when it’s done to cool it off. Then pour it into a large mixing/serving bowl.
Look, the salad is already almost done and doesn’t it look pretty so far!
Let’s get this salad dressing going. If you prefer something creamy that you can just pour onto the salad, I’d go with something like this:
Personally, I’m into homemade salad dressing. It’s easy and good for you. I found a recipe for Greek salad dressing here and then modified it for this recipe.
It’s 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 cup red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp. dried oregano, 1 Tbsp. dried basil, one tsp. dijon mustard, and one teaspoon of freshly-ground pepper. I leave salt until the very end, because you never know how salty the olives and cheese are going to make the salad.
If I had a third arm and hand, I would be whisking the vinegar into the olive oil. Actually, come to think of it, I think it’s better to whisk the olive oil into the vinegar. Not that it makes much difference here.
Next, whisk in the dried oregano…
Then the dried basil…
Next, the pepper… You’re just going to have to close your eyes and imagine it due to
my inability to download photos properly technical difficulties. It was the best one, too!
And, finally, the mustard.
Make sure to mix all of the ingredients together really well.
Okay, now for big ta-da!
I realize not everyone is half-Ecuadorian and, consequently, does not have a set of must-have-for-every-Ecuadorian-man-or-woman set of spoons. Go get yourself some anyway! It’s useful for all types of cooking and spanking kids. Kidding. Mostly.
Now pour in that chicken
And mix it in with your spoon (wooden if you are like me!).
Add all the veggies, stopping to mix as you go.
Then the olives.
And the feta.
Do you know what capers are? Buds of a flower! It’s kind of a fun factoid to impress your friends with when you make this salad for a party. I only use about half of the jar, so I just reuse a teaspoon to drain them in the jar and then pour them into the salad.
Again, third-armed Aimee would whisk the dressing as she poured it in. A smarter third-armed Aimee would also have made the salad dressing after mixing in the salad ingredients, so as not to allow the herbs to settle. Unfortunately, she would also be a freak of nature; so, I’ll just do it my less-smart two-armed way.
Add salt to taste. Please don’t use table salt. It’s gross and should only be used to dry out slugs. Use sea salt or another kind of gourmet-ish salt.
Okay, ta-da, and then the dishes. One of my pet peeves is recipes that look so yummy and easy…and then leave you with tons of dishes to do afterwards. Not to be all Dorothy Wizard of Oz about it, but I think it’s only fair to pull back the curtain and reveal the truth here.
I used that one glass bowl there for the waste from my veggies and packaging. I’m pretty sure I learned that trick from Rachel Ray on 30-Minute Meals. Overall, not that bad.
Here are the recipes:
Greek Pasta Chicken Salad:
- One bag of fusilli pasta (16 oz.)
- 1 carton mixed cherry tomatoes (16 oz.)
- 1 Bag of baby bell peppers (8 oz.)
(All of the above are organic, but to each her own)
- 1 can of artichoke hearts (14 0z.)
- 1 jar pitted kalamta olives (16 fl oz)
- 1 can of premium chunk white chicken (12.5 oz.)
- 1 bag low-fat feta cheese
- Half of 1 medium red onion, diced.
- Half a bottle of capers (7 fl. oz.)
- Sea salt to be added last to taste.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta, stir gently, and return to a boil. Boil 9 minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile…take out a medium mixing bowl for the prepared veggies. Wash and slice the tomatoes and bell peppers. Slice and dice half of the red onion. Rinse and slice up the artichoke hearts into quarters. Add all the veggies to the mixing bowl. Rinse the chicken and set aside. Rinse the kalamata olives in a colander and set aside. Slice up the feta cheese and then break apart before setting aside on the cutting board. When the pasta is ready, drain it well and cool it off with cold, running water. Add it to a large mixing/serving bowl. Add the chicken, followed by the veggies, olives, cheese, and capers. Mix well with awesome wooden spoon.
Greek Salad Dressing:
- 1 C. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 & 3/4 C red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. dried basil
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Pour 1 & 3/4 C red wine vinegar into a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Then whisk in each ingredient well. Continue to whisk as you pour it over the salad. Mix the dressing into the salad well. Add sea salt to taste. I’d let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
I’d venture to say you should make this salad the same day at you serve it. You can make it early and just store it in the fridge. It keeps for 3-5 days. However, if you know you are going to store the salad, I would just leave the dressing on the side so that it doesn’t make the tomatoes soggy. Enjoy!