You know those days when you open the cupboard and see all those ingredients that you bought for a particular dish and either you had more than you needed or you never actually got around to making that particular dish! I don't know why, but there is a certain amount of guilt associated to that for me. It's as if those poor ingredients are crying out to me, "We're so lonely sitting here. Use me! Please, don't leave me here." I know, weird.
But that's what happened to me. There was this 3/4-full box of ditalini pasta that had been there for awhile, I had gotten it for some Minestrone Soup that I made. So I thought, and searched through some cookbooks and recipe websites and came up with this salad. You can feel free to adjust this recipe according to the most needy delinquent ingredients in your cupboards.
I actually loved all the different flavors in this salad. The onion, garlic and green pepper were there, but they didn't overpower the oregano, basil or cheeses. Best yet, no two bites were exactly the same. One might be a little salty from the Parmesan, another will have the bite of garlic or pepperoncini and the next the funky fun of some feta.
This would also make a great side minus the chicken.
You can serve it as is or on a bed of salad greens, but be sure to include some crunchy whole grain bread. The salad works out to 290 calories with 7 grams of fat and 5 of fiber per serving.
Mediterranean Pasta Chicken Salad
Makes 8 servings
12 ounces ditalini or other pasta
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cups cooked cubed chicken (about 1 pound)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
20 kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions.
In a small bowl, whisk together broth, oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken, green pepper, olives, onion, artichoke hearts and mint.
Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the other ingredients and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with the Parmesan and feta cheeses just before serving.
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