This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at Ravenouskitchen.com, or in her cookbook, One Pan Whole Family.
Pasta salad makes a terrific summer meal. This one is loaded with vegetables and fruit, herbs and cheese with an oniony walnut oil vinaigrette straight from the south of France. Picture yourself picnicking with your family on a blanket under the trees in your back yard tonight, nibbling this pasta salad from paper plates. Now you’re getting the picture.
It’s that easy: Walnut oil is light, nutty flavored and perfect for making vinaigrettes. Use it up quickly and keep it in the fridge after opening as it can go rancid fast.
Pasta Salad with Chicken, Grapes and Walnuts
Start-to-Finish: 45 minutes
Hands-on Time: 45 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
- 8-oz rotini pasta
- 8-oz trimmed, fresh green beans
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 shallot
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup walnut oil or olive oil
- 2 handfuls arugula
- 1/4 cup mint
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 stalk celery
- 20 seedless red grapes
- 1 pear
- 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Baguette and soft butter as an accompaniment
- Fill a 4-qt saucepan with water and bring it to a boil, covered. When the water boils, add the 2 teaspoons salt and pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Add the green beans and cook another 4 minutes, or until pasta is al dente and the beans are tender.
- While the pasta cooks, on a large cutting board, mince the garlic and shallot and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the vinegar, mustard, a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper and stir to dissolve the salt. Whisk in the oil and set aside.
- Drain the pasta and transfer it to the bowl of dressing and toss to combine it well. Allow it to cool slightly while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Chop the arugula, mint, parsley and walnuts, thinly slice the celery, halve the grapes and peel and dice the pear and stir it all into the pasta. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, chicken and cheese, tossing to combine it well. Taste and add more salt and a few grinds of pepper if it needs it.
- Serve the salad at room temperature with the bread and butter. Keeps refrigerated for two days.
Extra Hungry Kids? Add another cup of chicken to the salad to chicken it up. Adult Taste Buds? Separate the adult portions before adding the feta cheese and sprinkle the adult plates with Roquefort or other blue cheese.
In the Glass: A crisp, dry white like Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece takes this summer salad to the Aegean and back.