Spring Tuscan Chicken Penne Pasta Salad

Spring is in the air!  As the days get longer and warmer, the mouth-watering aroma of BBQs waft across the suburbs.  The hot pot is banished to the back of the cupboard until next winter and hungry tummies crave salads.

Rory’s Tuscan Chicken Penne Pasta Salad is simple to cook and assemble.  It can be served as a side but it is substantial enough to be a meal on its own.  Serve it in a funky salad bowl and look like a Masterchef at your next BBQ.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 300g penne pasta
  • 300g of chicken tenderloins
  • 2 x tablespoons Masterfoods Tuscan seasoning
  • 150g swiss mushrooms
  • 150g rindless bacon rashes
  • 100g sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 40ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch chopped Italian parsley
  • 100g shaved parmesan
  • sea salt and cracked pepper

Dressing

  • 75g sour cream
  • 75g sundried tomato pesto
  • 75g whole egg mayonnaise

Method

  • Marinate your chicken tenderloins in the extra virgin olive oil and Tuscan seasoning for ten minutes.
  • While the meat is marinating, cook penne pasta until it is aldente (approximately 9 minutes).
  • Rinse pasta under cold water to immediately stop the cooking process and allow to drain.
  • Drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil over the pasta and toss through to stop the pasta from sticking together.
  • Heat the fry pan or BBQ plate.
  • Seal the chicken in a hot skillet on both sides.
  • Char your bacon in the hot chicken skillet and then place aside to be sliced through the salad.
  • Add another splash of olive oil to the pan.
  • Slice the mushrooms and fry off in the chicken / bacon basted skillet with a pinch of cracked pepper and sea salt.
  • Flick the mushrooms around the pan for three or four minutes until good colour forms and they begin to soften then set aside.
  • Place your pasta in a bowl and add the mushrooms, 1/2 bunch chopped parsley, sliced bacon rashes and shaved parmesan cheese.
  • Take your cooled chicken and use your fingers to shred it into smaller pieces. Add it to the salad bowl.
  • Toss in your sun dried tomatoes and add in a splash of oil from the jar  to your pasta bowl (if sundried tomatoes are in good quality oil).
  • In a separate bowl combine the sour cream, sun dried tomato pesto and whole egg mayonnaise. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the dressing to the main mix and toss through the salad.
  • Place your salad mix in a presentation bowl and garnish with fresh parsley or individually plate this one up for an evening meal.

Rory’s Cooking Tips

  • Hint 1: When cooking pasta, always season your water with a few pinches of salt and a splash of extra virgin olive oil to ensure your pasta has a balanced and rounded flavour.
  • Hint 2: For the ultimate chicken experience colour the tenderloins in the skillet for approximately 1 minute per side, then finish them off in a 200C oven for approximately five to six minutes. This process will reward you with succulent moist chicken and prevent drying out in the pan. Once cooked, place on a plate immediately to stop the cooking process.

Alterations:

  • This recipe is delightful by substituting the bacon with grilled prosciutto or even grilled Spanish chorizo.
  • If you are afraid of cold pasta dishes, this can be served utilising hot pasta, chicken and bacon.

 

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