July 04, 2012

Summer Chicken Pasta Salad

4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
10 oz cooked radiatore pasta
3/4 cup chopped red onion
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup shredded carrots
2 mini cucumbers, chopped
15 cornichons, chopped
zest of 1 lemon

1/3 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon
1 teaspoon juice from the cornichon jar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, pasta, cornichons, onion, celery and zest. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the salad and stir to evenly distribute all ingredients.

My thoughts:
I've been in a picnic foods sort of mood lately. It must be summer. This is a great salad to take to a picnic because it is more of a complete meal than just plain chicken salad thanks to the addition of the pasta. No need to bring bread! I know that some people are mayo-at-a-picnic phobic but that was really only a concern when people were making their own mayo. Commercial mayonnaise holds up just as any other food would at room temperature and follows the same food safety guidelines.

Anyway! I had some leftover shredded carrots from another recipe so I tossed them in. Normally I just dice a carrot or leave it out all together but I liked the shredded. It ended up distributing itself better than I think diced would have so you didn't end up with bits of just chicken and pasta at the bottom of the bowl. I've also been enjoying cornichons a lot lately so I used them instead of my usual caper or pickle. I think every cold salad needs a pickle note; don't you?I know some people don't "need" a recipe for chicken and pasta salad but this one was so unexpectedly tasty, I had to share. Enjoy!

Check out my spring (with asparagus and lemon-thyme dressing), autumn (with apples and apple cider dressing) and winter (with sun-dried tomatoes and bacon) chicken pasta salads as well!