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Recently we had a Sunday that included an open house (my friend's son is headed to Honduras to serve an LDS mission) and a family get-together. Wanting to provide food for both events, I turned to one of my favorite summer salads—one that is easy to make and super easy to double...or quadruple in this case. As far as I'm concerned, this chicken pasta salad should be eaten all summer long!
Humor me as I digress for a moment....
When I'm cooking for family and friends, I look for quality ingredients, especially when it comes to chicken. Having a daughter who is an animal lover has helped me become more aware of the type of chicken I buy. That's why I'm intrigued by NatureRaised Foods and their commitment to animal welfare. Get this—their chickens are raised in modern, open barns and provided "barn enrichments" such as elements to perch and climb on to ensure a comfortable and interactive environment.
Though I'd given thought to what chickens were fed and a general idea of how they were raised, I never thought much about the details of their living conditions.
If elements for perching make for a happier, healthier (and therefore tastier) chicken, I'm all for it.
Need another reason NatureRaised Farms® Brand chicken is a well-balanced choice for families? NatureRaised Foods farmers and producers never add hormones, steroids or antibiotics to their chickens. Those little cluckers enjoy a 100% vegetarian diet (i.e., no animal, protein or bakery by-products; just vegetables, grains, vitamins and minerals).
* Please excuse the chicken divan recipe photo. It was pre-DSLR and pre-photography classes. The dish tastes a bazillion times better than it looks.
As jazzed as I am about NatureRaised Foods and their humanely raised chicken, it's time to get back to my ever favorite chicken pasta salad.
When I made the salad this time around, I mixed it up by using half rotini and half farfalle pasta. And as usual, I omitted the mandarin oranges because the texture makes me want to gag. But feel free to add them if they're your thing. (We can still be friends, promise.) I also tend to use slightly less dressing than it calls for, but again, that's totally up to you.
Printable recipe for chicken pasta salad below.
- 1 (16-oz) package farfalle (bow tie) pasta*
- 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 large can pineapple tidbits, drained
- 2 cups red grapes
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 (6-oz) package Craisins cranberries
- 1 cup cashews (halves & bits)
- 1 large can mandarin oranges (optional)
- 1 (16-oz) bottle coleslaw dressing
- 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill.
- In a large bowl combine pasta with chicken, celery, pineapple, grapes, green onions, Craisins and mandarin oranges.
- In a small bowl whisk together dressing and mayonnaise. Add to pasta and toss to coat evenly.
- Chill at least an hour. Add cashews immediately before serving. Garnish with more cashews.
* Cooking the pasta and chicken the day before cuts down on prep work. Simply toss the pasta with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Refrigerate overnight.
I love serving this chicken pasta salad with a side of crusty French bread and a Caesar salad.
Yes, that's two salads but who wants to cook when the temperature hits 100+ degrees?!
Note: I originally posted this recipe over a year ago and it's still a summer tradition. I've tweaked it slightly since then and couldn't resist sharing it once more.
Thank you, NatureRaised Foods and Technorati, for being sponsors of this article. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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