Wednesday 25 July 2012

Pasta Salad With Chicken and Cheddar

We don't eat a lot of take out food at our house but we're big fans of a rotisserie chicken. Here, rotisserie chickens can often be purchased less expensively than whole, uncooked chickens.  They're convenient, much more healthful than many other take out options, and a single rotisserie chicken can be stretched to make for three or four meals for the two of us.

Our usual practice when buying a rotisserie chicken is to eat the wings and legs the night we bring it home, and to save the breasts and carcass for subsequent meals.  Each chicken breast makes a meal for two, and the carcass makes a flavourful soup.

I often incorporate some of the chicken breast meat into a pasta dish of some sort.  When the weather is hot, I'll use it in a salad.  Pasta salad made with chicken breast in it is always a good choice. 
We eat a lot of different pasta salads at our house, many different dressings.  We like them all, but there are times when a good old fashioned, just-like-back-in-the-day, mayonnaise dressed salad is what we want.  On those days, I dress my pasta salad with a combination of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, or with homemade roasted garlic aioli.

I made just such a "back in the day" pasta salad a couple of weeks ago, with breast meat from a rotisserie chicken and some tasty cubes of seven-year-old cheddar cheese.  It was perfect:  a quick, end-of-the-work-day meal with a flavour that evoked comfort food memories from my childhood.

To make Pasta Salad with Chicken and Cheddar, you'll need:

  • 1 cup macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, skinned, boned, and diced
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red onion*
  • 1 cup finely diced red pepper*
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radish* (I cut mine in half before slicing them)
  • 1 cup sliced celery*
  • 1-1/4 cup sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes*
  •  1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard*
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise*
Cook the macaroni to al dente into well salted water.  Drain it and immediately rinse it with cold running water, continuing to rinse until the pasta has cooled completely.

Shake as much water as you can from the macaroni (you don't want a watery salad) and then transfer it to a large bowl.

Add in all of the remaining ingredients and stir them gently together until the mustard and mayonnaise are distributed throughout .  The rest of the ingredients should be evenly mixed.

If you have time, put the salad in the fridge for half an hour or so to allow the flavours to meld.

Taste the salad before plating it and season it to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish it with fresh herbs immediately before service.

*These measurements are approximate.  I rarely use exact measurements when building a salad.