Are any of you out there frequenters of TGIFridays? I can’t say that I am now but back in high school I spent a lot of time there on outings with friends! I don’t think I’ve been inside one in years. I tend to frequent local eateries rather than chains. There’s nothing wrong with chain restaurants, and believe me I’m not beneath going to one. Or even enjoying a meal there for that matter. It’s just my own personal preference. But I digress. There was a reason I bring this up! There used to be a dish on the menu (and it may still be?!), call Bruschetta Chicken Pasta. I ordered it pretty much every time I went. Well today I recreated my own version of the dish. So here is Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Salad!
The main difference between the two dishes is that they served theirs warm and used angel hair pasta. I switched it up and cooled it off to make a fresh and healthy ziti noodle pasta salad. It’s also an ideal seasonal salad right now with tomatoes coming into their prime time!!
This dish really allows the produce to shine. The juicy tomatoes are the main ingredient and paired with a little basil, garlic, onion and olive oil make up the “sauce”. I simply sautéed my chicken ( again, insert the I hate that I have no grill comment here) and topped off the salad with it. The last ingredient I use to give some flavor flair is a balsamic reduction sauce. It’s different from a balsamic vinegar in that it is more syrupy and sweet. They should have it in your grocer with all the vinegars. I used Alessa brand. But if you can’t find this you can use vinegar, it will just give it a slightly more acid if taste that my original recipe! (But no big deal it will still taste good!!).
This pasta salad can definitely stand up as a full meal on a hot summer day. But, you can also use it as a barbecue side dish. And as with all my recent recipes, aside from the chilling portion it’s done in less than 30 minutes!
Now go and get the recipe below! If you’re looking for me, I’ll be at home eating a big bowl and washing it down with a glass of Chianti 😉
…all for the love of the dish
- 3/4 lb cooked ziti
- 2 chicken breasts
- 5 tomatoes (your choice of type)
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup basil
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic reduction (different from vinegar- It’s thicker, my grocer has Alessa brand) but if you can’t find, regular balsamic vinegar will do
- 2 tbsp italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp Pepper
- Follow box instructions to cook pasta.
- Meanwhile, heat a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Pat chicken dry and season with 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper and all of the Italian seasoning. Saute until juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side. You can also grill the chicken if you prefer. Let the chicken cool and then thinly slice, horizontally.
- dice tomatoes and onions, mince the garlic and chop the basil.
- Add the tomato mixture to a large serving bowl. Add in the olive oil and remaining salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Add in pasta and toss. Top off with the sliced chicken. Then liberally drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
- Let the whole pasta salad chill until using in the refrigerator.