Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
If you are looking for an easy, crowd-pleasing recipe, look no further. This pasta salad is one of those recipes my mom has made for years whenever she has to feed a large group. She can easily double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe if she needs to, and the recipe doesn't have to be exact every time. Somehow it always ends up tasting delicious.
For me, the unsung hero of this pasta salad is the sun dried tomato. Hence why I am calling it the sun dried tomato pasta salad. Even though they don't stand out in the picture above, they impart their subtle, yet unmistakable flavor to the dish. The tomatoes themselves are obviously mixed in to the salad, but the oil from the tomatoes is also mixed in with the dressing. A true testament to how good this salad is, is that my husband, who does not like sun dried tomatoes, can't get enough of it.
But of course, you can't have pasta salad without the pasta. I like to use whole wheat pasta, because, you know....it's a bit healthier. Penne or ziti pasta is ideal for this so that the flavors and dressing gets all up in the nooks and crannies.
To round out the rest of the cast are chicken (not pictured), snap peas, cilantro, and green onion. It may seem like a random combination of thing, but trust me, it all works together perfectly.
The dressing for the salad is a combination of Champagne dressing, the reserved oil from the sun dried tomatoes, balsamic, and olive oil. I know it's a quirky combination, but I assure you it makes this such a difference. On it's own, the Champagne dressing can be too acidic, but mixed with the rest of the oils and vinegar, it really tones it down.
The beauty of this salad is that I can prep everything ahead of time, even the day before and then dress the whole thing right before serving. That's what makes it perfect for a big group or party. Very little prep work.
I hope you try this recipe and love it as much as my family does!
- 1 lb pre-cooked chicken, sliced
- 1/2 cup Champagne dressing, divided
- 1 lb penne or ziti pasta, cooked
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
- 1 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained (reserve oil)
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 green onions, diced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place chicken strips and 1/4 cup of the Champagne dressing in a zip top bag. Shake to coat chicken in dressing and let marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, if not over night.
- To assemble the salad, pour the cooked pasta into a large bowl. Add in snap peas, sun dried tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, and pine nuts to toss to evenly disburse the ingredients.
- In a separate bowl or up, mix together 1/4 cup of the Champagne dressing, 2 tbsp of the sun dried tomato oil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- When ready to serve, mix in chicken and dress the salad. Gradually add in dressing until you are satisfied with the taste. You made not need all the dressing.