Pasta Salad with Chicken, Grapes and Walnuts

July 26, 2017


Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands on time: 45 minutes

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.

2 tsp salt plus more for sprinkling
8-oz [230 g] rotini pasta
8-oz [230 g] trimmed, fresh green beans
1 clove garlic
1/2 shallot
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup [80 ml] walnut oil or olive oil
2 handfuls arugula, chopped
1/4 cup [30 g] chopped walnuts
1 stalk celery
20 seedless red grapes
1 pear
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
12-oz [340 g] shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup [60 g] crumbled feta cheese
Baguette and soft butter as an accompaniment

Fill a 4-qt [3.8 L] 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 it to combine it well. Chop the arugula and walnuts and add them to the bowl.

Thinly slice the celery, halve the grapes and peel and dice the pear and stir them into the pasta. Chop the mint and parsley and add it to the salad along with the chicken and cheese, tossing to combine it well. Taste and add more salt and pepper if it needs it.

Serve the salad at room temperature with the bread and butter.

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.

In My Ears: Europa just sounds like summer to me.



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