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Southwest Pasta Salad

I had some leftover grilled chicken from making my Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Fajitas. Even though I only grilled two chicken breasts they had rib meat attached, so one was more than enough to make fajitas for my family of five. I was contemplating what to do with the leftover fajita seasoned chicken when I thought of Sherry’s comment on my Fajita recipe. She said that she cooked the same ingredients, but used Italian seasonings and served it over pasta. I thought her idea sounded great, but I had a chicken breast with fajita seasonings on it, so I decided to try combining pasta with southwest flavors.

This dish came together fast. I cut the vegetables, diced the chicken, and made the dressing while the pasta cooked. All I had to do was toss the ingredients after the pasta had been rinsed. I like raw veggies in my pasta salads, so I decided not to saute the peppers, tomatoes, and yellow squash before adding it to the pasta.

The pasta salad needed a dressing to tie all of the ingredients together. I started replicating the ingredients that I used to make the fajita marinade, but something was missing. I thought about adding tomato sauce, but I didn’t want to open a jar of tomato sauce for a couple of spoonfuls of sauce. Then I remembered that I had some leftover spaghetti sauce and added a little to the dressing. The dressing instantly went from just okay to “wow, do you think anybody would notice if I drank this with a straw”.

Southwest Pasta Salad

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Total Time: 15 minutes

Salad Ingredients:

12 oz. pasta, cooked according to the package directions
2 bell peppers, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 – 2 cups leftover chicken, diced

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

juice and zest of one lime (use this tip when limes are on sale)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons leftover spaghetti sauce (or tomato sauce or pizza sauce, etc.)
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix


While the pasta is cooking, cut the meat and vegetables into bite size pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients.

After pasta is done cooking, rinse it under cold water until the pasta is cold.

Place the pasta, vegetables and chicken in a large bowl. Pour dresssing over the pasta salad and toss to thoroughly coat with dressing.

You can serve this immediately or make it ahead and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve the salad.

This post is linked to Hearth and Soul Hop, Let’s Do Brunch, and $5 Dinner Challenge.

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About Alea Milham

Alea Milham is the owner and editor of Premeditated Leftovers. She shares her tips for saving money and time while reducing waste in her home. Her favorite hobby, gardening, is a frugal source of organic produce for her recipes. She believes it is possible to live fully and eat well while spending less.


  1. Great idea to use what you already had available. I’m big on not wasting.
    Anything with Southwest in the title is a winner in my house.

  2. Alea,

    This salad looks delicious. I love pasta salad . Thanks for sharing and hosting Hearth and soul blog hop.

  3. I don’t know why I’ve never made a Southwestern themed pasta salad before, I need to now! Great idea :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  4. “do you think anyone would mind if I drink it with a straw” Haha that is the best line :)

    Filing this-just cooked up two whole chicken and a bunch of thighs to chop and shred for upcoming meals…..good choice here!

  5. I love this idea, Alea! What a great salad – delicious, spicy and satisfying! Thank you for sharing it :)

  6. I love anyway to give a new life to leftovers and this looks like a great twist.

  7. so yummy come see what I shared at

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