Friday, May 8, 2009

Curried Chicken Pasta Salad

This is one of my favorite pasta salads. I don't make it too often, since nobody else in our house loves pasta like I do. However, David did have some for dinner Friday night while I was out teaching my last FAMILIA class. He said if I every made it again, he would definitely eat it. How about that?!

I usually substitute green bell peppers for red bell peppers, because the red ones can be pricey. But this time, splurge just a little bit. The red pepper lends a sweetness to the salad that cannot be beat. The rest of the ingredients are pretty cheap, so it shouldn't hurt the wallet too much.

If you are not a big fan of curry, I would encourage you to give it another try. Using the full tablespoon of curry makes this salad different from the typical pasta salads that have a mayonnaise-based dressing. You could cut back just a little if you're still hesitant.

I had some friends over for lunch, and they loved this salad's perfect for a ladies luncheon, and can be served at room temperature, so you don't have to worry about keeping it hot/cold.

Curried Chicken Pasta Salad

1 pound ziti or penne pasta
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast/tenderloins
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dark/golden raisins
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4/ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over low heat, or pop them into the toaster oven for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Don't leave them...they'll burn to a crisp if you walk away, trust me. Let the almonds cool, and set aside.

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, In a large, non-stick skillet, saute the chicken in a little olive oil until done. Set aside, and when cool enough to handle, cut in bite-sized strips. I used chicken tenderloins because I got several big packs of them on sale. Plus, the tenderloins cook up in no time flat (I actually had some poached chicken in the freezer, thawed it, and then sauteed it for just a couple of minutes so it would get some color).

Meanwhile, cook up the pasta until al-dente, drain, and rinse under lukewarm water (not cold). We're just trying to cool the pasta down a little bit, but we don't want it completely cold.

In the same skillet, saute the peppers and onions together until crisp-tender, and season with a little salt and pepper.

Place the peppers, onions, and raisins in a large serving bowl.

In a blender or small food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients: the curry powder, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and olive oil. Process until well-combined. Let's just pretend I took a picture of this...because I was busy chatting with the ladies in the kitchen, and just plumb forgot to take as many pictures as I usually do. Take about 1/4 cup of the dressing, and toss it with the chicken in a medium-sized bowl. This will give the chicken some great flavor and color.

Add the sliced chicken and pasta to the bowl, and give everything a toss. Pour the rest of the curry dressing over everything and give it another toss. Garnish with the almonds and cilantro, and serve immediately.

(You can do almost everything ahead of time...I cooked the chicken, vegetables, almonds and made the dressing before people showed up. All I had to do once guests arrived was drop the pasta). Everyone had seconds, including me :-).

I hope you give this a try. I took a container full with me for lunch and ate it at the kids first swim meet last was even better the next day...and everyone was asking what I was eating?!

God Bless your table tonight!


Suzie said...

This looks very good to me. Do you make a lot of dishes with curry?? I haven't used it that often. I've heard that there are different 'kinds' of curry, do you know more?

Kimberly said...

Suzie, I don't know much about curry...I just used the regular curry from the grocery store. If you try this pasta salad, let me know :-)