I know many people are still experiencing cool weather right now. My own kiddo is (at long last thank you thank you) on summer vacation with her grandparents up North and they likely had to make a lot more use of the few jeans and long-sleeved shirts I sent with her than anything else. All I can say is, if you’re tired of that cool, almost chilly weather, you need to get your frigid patookers down here where I am, cuz I’m already sweating mine off most days. It’s hard to believe that we just had one of our coldest winters in years. You’d never know it now!
With highs in the 90’s, our AC unit can barely keep us cool, and we’ve not hit the months actually known for making us into puddles. I don’t know about you all, but that kind of suckiness call for food that can play nice in the heat. So let’s get to it. Fire up that grill again. This time, we’re doing a good part of the work outside for this really easy pasta salad.
Some reviews for this recipe via the source link below suggested using the jarred artichokes as opposed to canned. Admittedly, I’ve had some canned ones that tasted “tinny”, but after rinsing the ones I bought, they were fine. More than fine. Deliciously fine! Besides, the jarred ones at my store were all “marinated” and, really, no thanks. Not when I don’t know what that will taste like ahead of time.
If you’re reluctant to fire up the grill for two measly chicken boobs, well…that’s your loss! Really, though, cook them however you prefer, but the mere fact that they’re grilled adds flavor to the rest of the pasta salad. If it makes you feel better, you can always cook some up with some other grilled items for a totally different meal, then save the grilled chicken and pasta salad for another day. I do prefer the meat to be fresh grilled, but grilling your chicken ahead of time isn’t a bad idea either.
Also important, though – season your chicken. However you like your chicken seasoned for grilling, that’s probably a good bet for this pasta salad. We used a pepper garlic seasoning blend from McCormick.
The only real adjustment we made to the recipe was to add more fresh herbs. I snagged some fresh sweet basil and thyme from the garden, and with the parsley, they did a mighty fine job. This isn’t a pasta salad with a creamy dressing or even one with a lot of oil and vinegar. The herbs really help to enhance the overall flavor.
The green onions also lend a hand with the flavor – a lot. I love these little guys and am always willing to use more than most recipes call for.
After adding in those yummy artichoke hearts and all those wonderful green herbs, pile on some fresh-grated Parmesan cheese. Do not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do NOT use the plastic bottled powdered consistency cheese. That kind has its time and place, but it’s not this salad. You can find pre-grated Parmesan that’s the fatter, bigger grated pieces as shown above. That will work if you must cut some corners to save time. Otherwise, get out that grater and you’ll know why when you taste it all together.
OK, so there is some oil in this recipe, as part of the dressing for the whole shebang. There’s also a teensy bit of red wine vinegar. BUT. I promise, this is one of the lighter-tasting pasta salads ever. It’s not heavy on either ingredient, at all. You can of course adjust them to taste, and do the same for some salt and pepper.
So, al dente pasta – check! Fresh-grated salty yummy Parmesan – check! Awesome artichokes – check! A light, yet flavorful amount of spice and seasoning – check! Herbs! Lots of glorious fresh herbs – checkity check! As with anything, adjust some ingredients if you need to. I might even add some sliced black olives to this one day, or maybe kalamata. Whatever the case, though, this is a perfect pasta salad for summer, for hot weather, for the taste buds.
Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts
adapted slightly from Quick from Scratch – Pasta (Food & Wine Magazine editors) via Cooking.com
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 3/4 pound fusilli
- 1 1/4 cups canned, drained artichoke hearts (one 14-ounce can), rinsed and cut into 6 wedges each
- 3 scallions including green tops, chopped
- generous 1/4 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme and sweet basil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Light the grill or heat the broiler. Coat the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper(or your seasoning of choice). Grill or broil until just done, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fusilli until just done, about 13 minutes (or follow the package directions for desired doneness). Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Add the chicken, artichoke hearts, scallions, parsley, the remaining 5 tablespoons oil, the vinegar, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the Parmesan to the pasta and toss well.
As mentioned above, grilling the chicken brings a nice smokey flavor to this, but if you can’t grill or just don’t want to, stove top will work fine, too.
I do urge you to mix and match those herbs for maximum flavor – the parsley, thyme and basil worked really good together.
Make sure your pasta is cool before adding the cheese. The cheese is much better not melted in this one.