Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicken-Penne Salad with Green Beans

This pasta salad is a perfect one-dish meal for no-fuss summer eating. 

  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 cups (1-inch) cut green beans*
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded Gardein Tuscan chicken breast (without sauce)**
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 (7-ounce) bottle roasted red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes.  Add the green beans and cook for an additional 4 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water; drain again.

2. Drain the bell peppers, and cut into thin strips.  Combine the bell peppers in a bowl with the pasta, green beans, chicken, red onion, basil, and parsley. The colors are just beautiful, as soon as you stir this together.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, cold water, salt, garlic, and black pepper.  Drizzle over the pasta mixture and toss gently. 

Round out the meal with simple cheesy mozzarella toasts: place 4 (1/2-inch thick) diagonally cut slices French bread baguette on a baking sheet, and sprinkle each slice with 1 tablespoon shredded Daiya mozzarella.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, until golden.  

For a perfect summer dessert, round out the meal with your favorite mixed berries dolloped with a little vanilla non-dairy yogurt. 

*To make quick work of your green beans, line up on a cutting board, trimming off the tough ends. Leave the pretty taper at the other end intact, as you cut into pieces about equal in length to the penne pasta.

**You can prepare the chicken ahead of time: cook according to package directions, then shred with a fork or by hand. Start with 3 of Gardein's chicken breasts to yield 2 cups shredded.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (2 cups), Calories 384 

Tasting Notes:
The instant I took I bite of this, I knew it was intended for a picnic supper somewhere - listening to the Philharmonic in Central Park perhaps, or whisked away to Tanglewood in the Berkshires. In other words, an ideal summer salad. There were great "antipasto" flavors from the roasted bell pepper, onion, and pasta; I would add quartered artichoke hearts or capers next time to play up the feeling, and also for a little added brininess. The vinegar dressing was nice and light; consider using balsamic vinegar for a variation.


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