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
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.