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Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad






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!

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

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.






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.






 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.






 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

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