Now imagine a pasta salad full of delicious earthy flavors, vegetables, grilled chicken, and a delicious balsamic vinaigrette. Absolutely scrumptious and healthy!
Why It's Healthy And Delicious...
This pasta salad recipe is healthy because, for one, it is made with whole wheat pasta. And when I say pasta I'm talking about fusilli which is one of the best types of pasta to use for making a pasta salad.
Second, it contains some lightly cooked (grilled to be precise) chicken and vegetables. Which make it very filling, and nutritious. The vegetables that give this salad a delicious earthy flavor are eggplants and mushrooms. As well as cherry tomatoes for a kick of sweetness, and fresh herbs like arugula and parsley for that hint of freshness!
Thirdly, it isn't made with mayo like most pasta salad recipes. But instead with an appetizing vinaigrette made of balsamic vinegar, honey, and extra virgin olive oil.
How To Make This Healthy Pasta Salad
This pasta salad requires quite a few steps in order to make it. But it will make up for the extra effort with its delicious flavor.
First, you need to boil the pasta and then let it cool. Boil it according to its package directions. Though when it comes to pasta salad I always like to cook it 1 minute less so it's more al dente. This way when you strain the pasta and cool it under cold running water it will still stay al dente. Otherwise, it may soak more water (by the sudden change from hot to cold) and become slightly overcooked. And it's not what we really opt for in a pasta salad, where you want the pasta to be nice and firm to the bite.
Second, you need to grill both the chicken as well as the vegetables, the eggplants (sliced), and the mushrooms (bite-sized pieces). And then let them cool as well, before cutting both the chicken and eggplant slices into small strips.
Thirdly, make the quick vinaigrette by mixing with a whisk the balsamic vinegar, the honey, and the extra virgin olive oil.
Lastly, mix everything together (using half the vinaigrette so the pasta won't absorb all of it while it marinates) in a large mixing bowl along with the cherry tomatoes, chopped arugula, and parsley. Let the salad marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge. In order for the pasta to absorb all the flavors. Then drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve.
How Long To Keep Any Leftovers
You may keep leftovers in an airtight food container inside the fridge for up to 4 days.
Healthy Greek Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe
For The Salad:
- 450 grams / 15.8 oz chicken tenders or chicken breast
- 200 grams / 7 oz uncooked whole wheat fusilli pasta (or bow tie pasta or mini penne)
- 200 grams / 7 oz cherry tomatoes cut in half if too big
- 180 grams / 6.3 oz small button mushrooms cut in half
- 200 grams / 7 oz eggplant cut into very thin slices
- 25 grams (about a handful) of rocket chopped
- 1,5 tablespoon parsley chopped
- salt and pepper
- dried thyme
- olive oil
For The Vinaigrette:
- 90 grams / 3.1 oz balsamic vinegar
- 30 grams / 1 oz honey
- 90 grams / 3.1 oz extra virgin olive oil
For The Salad:
- Cook the pasta one minute less than its package instructions. Strain and cool under cold running water. Set aside.
- Heat a grill pan over high heat. Tenderize chicken with a meat tenderizer on a cutting board. Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of dried thyme.
- Add a light drizzle of olive oil to the grill pan. Add the chicken and cook for about 15-20 minutes flipping it 2-3 times. If you are not sure if the chicken is cooked through use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature of the meat should read 165°F / 74°C. Remove from the grill pan and place in a plate or baking dish and keep covered for a few minutes so it won't dry up. After 10-15 minutes you may uncover it to cool even further.
- Rinse the pan with some water and dry it with some paper towels. Heat over high heat again. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the eggplant slices and season them with salt and pepper. Rub with your hands to spread oil and seasoning all over. Add eggplants to the pan and grill for a few minutes until they get a nice deep color all over. About 10 minutes flipping them 2-3 times as well. If the eggplants look a bit dry while you grill them add an extra drizzle of oil on top of them. As eggplants are very spongy and require oil to cook properly. Once the eggplants are cooked set aside to cool keeping the grill pan on the heat.
- In a bowl add the mushrooms and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt pepper, and a sprinkle of dried thyme. Mix well and then grill them over high heat, as you did with the eggplants. If you are using small mushrooms they take about 5-6 minutes to cook. Once done set aside to cool as well.
- When both the chicken and the vegetables have cooled down enough to handle them, cut the eggplant slices as well as the chicken into small strips.
For The Vinaigrette:
- In a large mixing bowl add all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Season with salt. Mix vigorously with a whisk until it thickens. Keep half of the dressing in a small bowl. Cover it and place it in the fridge.
- Then add all of the remaining salad ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir thoroughly to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours.
- Then remove from the fridge and serve drizzled with extra vinaigrette on top.
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