Lemon-Basil Chicken Pasta Salad

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I have been eating “salads” galore.  Eventually, the green salads have not become very filling and I also ran out of ideas; not to mention, my refrigerator is not a 50 ingredient salad bar!  Anyhow, I’ve been experimenting with healthier recipes that could be served hot or cold.  This delicious lemon-basil chicken pasta salad is one of them.  I might make it for dinner and eat leftovers cold the next day.  Now, that’s thinking ahead!

Serves 4.  Prep time: 25min.  Total time: warm: 25min  cold: 1hr 25min (for cooling)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2   teaspoon salt (for cooking pasta), if desired
  • 2  cups uncooked rotini or rotelle (spiral) pasta (6 oz)
  • 10 asparagus stalks (about 8 oz)
  • 1 clove garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 oz cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2  cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz)
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Directions:

  1. Fill a 4-quart Dutch oven about half full of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt if desired. Cover with lid; heat over high heat until water is boiling rapidly. Add the pasta. Heat to boiling again. Boil uncovered 9 to 11 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender but not mushy. While water is heating and pasta is cooking, continue with recipe.
  2. Break off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus stalks where they snap easily; wash asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces to measure 2 cups. Add asparagus to the pasta during the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking.
  3. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch cubes to measure about 2 cups. Tear the basil leaves lengthwise into narrow strips.
  4. Place strainer or colander in the sink. Pour pasta and asparagus in the strainer to drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.
  5. If you are going to eat it warm: pour pasta back in the pot after draining, throw in remaining ingredients, toss and serve.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.
  6. Cold: In a large glass or plastic bowl, toss pasta, asparagus and chicken. Stir in garlic, basil, cheese, oil and lemon peel. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until chilled.
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