Feb 3, 2017

Pasta-Chicken Salad Minus the Mayo!

Hawaii is in love with mac salad. My guess is that this salad's origin is rooted in Europe, along with potato salad, brought here in the early 20th century by pineapple plantation managers, who were mainly of European descent.

Hawaiian potato-mac salad is usually served with most local plate lunches, and is loaded with mayonnaise. I have tasted many variations of this salad in the last 15 years, but the common denominator is mayonnaise.

It's easy to make mac salad, but it's the 'mayonnaise-laden' part that bothers me. Face it, most of us could stand to loose some weight. I don't think you want to hear this, but the fact is that one tablespoon of regular mayonnaise has about 100 calories, and 80 milligrams of sodium. This is not a healthy condiment folks! It gets worse, click on this site to learn the truth about mayonnaise.

The recipe below is loaded with good things, minus the mayo. Give it a try, I think you will like it.

Pasta-Chicken Salad with Mustard Dressing
I use chicken thighs in this recipe instead of chicken breasts. Chicken thighs have a lot more flavor, however if you would rather use the breasts... go for it. I also use bow-tie pasta (farfalle) instead of elbow pasta because it looks so festive.

This recipe is all about flavor, for example I roast a red bell pepper over a burner on my stovetop, cool, and remove the burnt skin and seeds, then chop it up, click here for more info on fire-roasted red bell peppers. Feta cheese is loaded with flavor, but you could use parmesan if you prefer. Finally the mustard dressing takes this salad over the top, enjoy!

Ingredients for Salad:
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups (16 oz.) dried bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, sauteed and sliced thin
1 large Japanese cucumber, sliced lengthwise and cut thin
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup chopped fire-roasted red bell peppers (1 whole pepper)
1 cup sliced thin and diced pepperoni (about 8 ounces)
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided in half
1 large head of leaf lettuce for garnish

Ingredients for Mustard Dressing:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 12 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water and shake until very dry. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over it and gently toss to coat.

Add the sauteed chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, peppers, salami, onions, parsley, and half the cheese, gently toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, whisk together the mustard dressing; pour it over the chilled salad and gently toss again. Sprinkle the remaining feta cheese over the top. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve in lettuce cups.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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