Sometimes I’ll make something and know my family is going to love it. Or at least which of my family is going to love it. Sometimes I’ll make something and know which of my family is going to hate it. Sometimes I truly have no idea.
And then, as a subset of that, it also depends on how hungry the person is, and also just plain old mood.
All of this is to say that when my two boys pulled put a huge container of this from the fridge, and sat side by side on the couch with two forks, and inhaled the entire tub, I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Not shocked, mind you – there’s nothing in here the boys don’t like, but if I wasn’t sure they were going to go for the beans in the pasta salad. Then again, they were shoveling it in at such a fast clip they might not have stopped to register any individual ingredients at all.
Originally this salad was born of leftovers: leftover pasta, leftover roasted chicken (and go right ahead and use a rotisserie), leftover cilantro. As so many great dishes are. But it was good enough that I jotted down the ingredients and made it again.
My husband also comes from a long proud line of pasta salad lovers. I used to make pasta salad with a mayo-based dressing every time his parents came to visit and for a while they thought I was a genius. Now they think other things about me, but they do still love my pasta salads, so I still have that going for me.
Other items to think about throwing in (this is as much a list for myself as for you all): artichoke hearts, diced zucchini or zucchini ribbons, diced red onion, mini cooked broccoli florets, and sliced hearts of palm, which I just adore (I ate a jar of them every day when I was pregnant with Charlie. It was an expensive but fairly healthy craving).
Pasta Salad with Chicken and Chipotle Dressing
For the Chipotle Dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Pasta Salad
- 4 cups small cooked pasta
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 15.5-ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper diced
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves
- In a small container, combine the olive oil, vinegar, onion, honey, chipotle and salt and pepper. Shake to combine.
- In a serving bowl combine the pasta, chicken, beans and pepper and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss again, then add the cilantro and give a final toss to distribute the herbs.
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