Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hot weather, cold supper

I eat out a lot. A LOT. And I live in Chicago, so I'm surrounded by terrific dining opportunities. But every once in a while, I feel obligated to cook dinner. I mean, cooking and baking are my hobbies, right?

Anyway, it's been hot and muggy - very uncomfortable cooking weather. I've been thinking about a cool pasta salad. Using my sister's pasta salad as inspiration (thanks, sis!), tonight's dinner was delicious. Here's the recipe:

"Cool Me Off" Chicken Pasta Salad
4 generous servings

8 ounces dry pasta
2-3 pieces of cooked chicken
1-2 cups chopped fresh vegetables 
8-10 kalamata olives, quartered (optional - yeah, right!)
3-4 ounces hard cheese, cut in a small dice or shredded
1/2 bottle Italian salad dressing 
2 tablespoons McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning

Cook pasta - in fact, do this ahead of time, in the cool of the night, then drain and chill. If you must cook it just before serving, drain and run under cold water until pasta feels cool.

While pasta is cooking, chop the chicken, vegetables, olives (if using) and cheese. Add to drained, cooled pasta in a large bowl. Add about a third of a bottle of Italian dressing and the salad seasoning. Toss well and taste. If too dry, add the rest of the dressing. Add more salad seasoning if needed. 

Serve with homemade bread and a chilled cider.


  • Between the salad dressing and the seasoning, you won't need to add salt and pepper.
  • Pasta:  I used penne, but rotini also works well - holds the sauce well. Macaroni is okay.
  • Chicken: I used one super-huge breast, prepared according to Alton Brown's 40 Cloves and a Chicken recipe.
  • Vegetables: I used sweet peppers and tomatoes; broccoli, cucumbers and celery work well too. I don't recommend carrots - too hard.
  • Cheese: I used cheddar, but Swiss, shredded (not grated) parmesan or asiago or provolone also work well
  • Dressing: I used Newman's Own Lite Italian
  • Seasoning:  I'm not kidding. Keep this in your cupboard.

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