Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Perfect Little Summer Salad

This is one of my top all-time salads, and we eat a LOT of salads.  It's great for summer for a couple of reasons - you can do the hot cooking in advance and just toss everything together at the last minute, plus it's a wonderful reason to go to your local farmers market to buy all the herbs.  It's light and refreshing, yet very filling and satisfying as an entree.  Serve with a breadstick on the side, or better yet a fresh red ripe sliced tomato.  If you try the recipe please leave a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I use cavatappi pasta because I like the way it curls and I like saying "cavatappi".  But you can use any short cut pasta such as ziti, penne, or bow ties.  For the corn, it can be fresh or frozen, whichever is available.  The chicken can be grilled, roasted, or pan sauted.  The only thing that really shouldn't be changed is the fresh herbs.  This recipe is all about the herbs.

Advance preparation:  you can cook the pasta, chicken and corn the day prior or in the morning.  Refrigerate all components separately, then assemble at the last minute.  That makes it an easy weeknight meal.

printable recipe
Chicken Pasta Salad with Fresh Herbs and Corn
serves 4

6 oz dry cavatappi pasta
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 small or 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
salt and pepper
1 large or 2 small fresh ears of corn, husks removed (or frozen corn)
3-1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup packed fresh flat leaf parsley, torn
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro sprigs, torn
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
1/8 cup packed fresh mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup packed fresh baby arugula, torn
4 lemon wedges

In a large pot, bring water to boil.  Add cavatappi and cook until done according to package directions.  Drain, rinse, and toss immediately with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to keep from sticking.  Refrigerate until cool.

Heat a grill, grill pan, or saute pan to medium high.  Brush the chicken with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.  Grill or saute until golden and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side.  Let the chicken cool and then cut it on the diagonal into thin strips.

Cook the ears of corn in boiling water until tender, approximately 5-6 minutes depending on freshness.  Cut the kernels off the cob and reserve.

In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic and cumin.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add all remaining ingredients (pasta, chicken, corn, and herbs) and toss.  Serve garnished with lemon wedges.


Marne said...

This salad sounds delicious---and it looks even better. Great photography.
I can't eat cilantro, so I'll substitute parsley from my garden.

Nancy said...

Absolutely - there are cilantro-lovers and cilantro-haters. More parsley and/or more arugula would work great.

Kathy M. said...

This recipe, and your blog, look wonderful! Congrats on your accomplishment of starting the "Cracked Pepper", and thanks for sharing all your foodie knowledge!

Chris H. said...

Wow, Nancy!-great looking photos and page layout. Look forward to following and tasting. Great idea.
Chris H.

Ted L. said...

Great technique. It is tomato season in MO so we are going to give it a try. I have roasted romas in the past but never thought to freeze them for later.

Ted L.