Ah spring. It's glorious isn't it? It's warm, sunny, bright, and CLEAN! The air is fresh, the grass is covering all the mud, and everyone is scrubbing and purging for the bright new season. Our dinner tables start to look different too. Instead of rich creamy soups and casseroles, we see a lot more fresh veggies and grilled meats.
This pasta salad definitely fits in that category. Penne pasta full of bright, fresh veggies, tangy roasted chicken breast and tossed in a light, but flavorful dressing. It's served cold or at room temp, which makes it perfect for a picnic. Just the thing you'd want to do on a beautiful spring day.
Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light August 2005
1/2 pound uncooked penne rigate
2 chicken breasts
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (I used a blend of Mexican seasonings instead, about 2 teaspoons)
3 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 375. Rub chicken breasts in lemon pepper and drizzle in olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through and juices are clear. Let chicken cool and dice it.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add Chicken and next 5 ingredients (through tomato); toss well to combine.
3. Combine orange juice and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill. (Be sure to season well to your liking).