The recipe and photography for this post was provided by Carolyn Hodges of The Dinner Shift.
Chicken Caesar salad is about as classic as it gets, but why should lettuce have all the fun? I’m swapping the romaine for penne in this satisfying, protein-packed, weeknight-friendly pasta. I added chopped bell pepper and some lacinato kale for added nutrition and opted for Barilla’s Protein+ penne for a protein boost, but you can use any type of pasta you prefer. A combination of refrigerated pre-made Caesar dressing and pasta water make for a quick sauce and fresh lemon juice and parsley bring it all together.
I’ve loved and trusted Gerber’s chicken for years. Their chicken breasts, chicken thighs, ground chicken and chicken sausage are my absolute favorites. This recipe features Gerber’s Thin Cut Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, which cook up quickly so they stay nice and tender. You can also split boneless skinless chicken breasts in half lengthwise, or pound chicken breasts into ½-inch thick cutlets. If you wanted to keep this vegetarian, skip the chicken and stir in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with the cooked pasta.
- 1 14.5 oz. box Barilla Protein+ Penne (1 cup pasta water reserved)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 lb. Gerber Thin Cut Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (about ½-inch thick)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup refrigerated creamy Caesar dressing (recommend: Marzetti Simply Dressed)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
- Juice from half a lemon
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions in heavily salted water. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken breast cutlets to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Set aside to rest for five minutes, then slice into bite-size pieces.
- Pour the remaining Tbsp. of olive oil into the pan and add the red bell pepper and kale. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn.
- Turn off the heat and add the cooked chicken and pasta to the pan. Pour in the Caesar dressing and about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and stir well to combine. Fold in the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and parsley. Feel free to add more Caesar dressing or pasta water.
- Serve topped with additional Parmesan and fresh cracked black pepper.