Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on July 1, 2009

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I love pasta salads…because pretty much, “anything goes!” I used a package of marked down chicken tenderloins ($2.52 for the package), balsamic vinaigrette dressing that I got on sale matched with a $1 coupons (total of $.50 for the bottle), carrots that were $.08 for the bag (sign up for Earthbound coupons here), and veggies that were on sale last week! I also like to buy pasta salad noodles (rotini and shells) “in bulk” to bring down the cost of the pasta!

Ingredients
3 cups rotini pasta noodles ($.75)
1 package chicken tenderloins ($2.52)
1 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing, divided ($.15)
2 carrots ($.02)
1 green pepper ($.68)
1/2 zucchini ($.54)
Fresh basil (free from garden)
Fresh parsley (free from garden)
Salt/Pepper, to taste

Directions
1. In medium saucepan, cook pasta noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to serving bowl with 1/2 cup of balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

2. Place chicken tenderloins (dice them first if you like…I didn’t, because I find it easier to cut cooked chicken than raw chicken) into medium skillet with other 1/2 cup of balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Saute for 4-5 minutes each side, or until tenderloins are no longer pink in the middle.

3. Meanwhile, peel and chop carrot. Core, seed and dice green pepper. Dice 1/2 of a large zucchini. (I will eat the other half with some hummus for lunch tomorrow!) Chop fresh basil and parsley.

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4. Once chicken has cooked through, toss veggies with chopped fresh basil and parsley into the skillet with the chicken. Add 1/2 – 3/4 cups of water.

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 5. Cover and let steam for 4-5 minutes, or until zucchinis become translucent. Once steamed, take “sharp” metal spatula or knife and cut the chicken tenderloins into bite size pieces.

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 6.  Once cooked, toss chicken and veggies with pasta and dressing.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Optional: Add a few shakes of parmesan cheese to each serving.  Serve warm or refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve chilled.

7. Serve Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad. 

(Another thing I love about pasta salads…you’ve got protein, veggies and starch all in one dish!)

(Oh. Oh.  And something else…there’s LOTS leftover for tomorrow’s lunch.  Even though we ALL…including boys…had 2 bowls!)

Cost $4.66

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What are your MUSTS when it comes to pasta salads?  Favorite dressings?  Favorite veggies or cheeses to toss in???

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

FitFoodie July 1, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I LOVE Pasta Salad too! I like using a combo of Italian and Blue Cheese dressing. I love adding salami, diced tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. Yum :)

Reply

Shelly July 1, 2009 at 6:59 pm

looks awesome! we like Ceasar dressing on our pasta salad and at our house black olives, fresh parmesan, and chopped up croutons in it are a MUST! =)

Reply

Michelle July 1, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Give me antipasta salad with good Italian vinaigrette and salami, mozzarella, etc. OR give me Greek with black olives and feta. Except when I’m pregnant. Then give me Tuna Skroodle salad. I don’t know why. But YUM for 2 pregnancies!!!

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Tiffany July 2, 2009 at 7:57 am

That looks really good. I make a pasta salad with bowties, broccoli and cherry tomatoes or red peppers. Add some grilled chicken and it’s a great meal to pack on a busy day.

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Lex July 2, 2009 at 8:13 am

Yum this looks deeeelish! I do a variation of this with Greek salad and feta, lots of tomatoes & fresh seedless cucumbers. Mmm I’m hungry now!
Looks great, thanks for sharing!

Reply

Lisa July 2, 2009 at 8:27 am

Looks yummy!

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Donna July 2, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Looks great and I when I need smaller pieces of chicken I just use my kitchen shears and cut the raw chicken. I was amazed the first time I tried this at how well it works plus the smaller pieces will cook more quickly. I do this to make chicken nuggets out of chicken tenderloins a lot but it works for boneless skinless chicken breasts also.

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Donna July 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Oh this looks yummy. I can’t wait to try it.

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