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I hope you all are having a great start to your week. This week we have a fantastic recipe and guest blog post for you from Akshita at https://sugarspiceneverythingnice.com/ providing a delicious Greek Pasta Chicken Salad Recipe that is healthful, balanced, and most of all, tasty! Check out the full post below.

Mixed with a bunch of healthy veggies, pasta, chicken, feta cheese and a very zesty dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, pepper and salt, this bowl of healthy Greek pasta chicken salad will give you a break from the usual high fat pasta recipes or the boring salads. It brings together the best of two worlds — bring in pasta and salad. This one is definitely going to stand out in a line-up of all the dinner menu items for your next potluck.

Greek pasta salad is just one version of the general pasta salad, which is primarily a salad dish which is mixed with vegetables and pasta and mostly served chilled, with some form of dressing on top (mayo, vinaigrette, or oil). Sometimes, you serve chicken and other meats on it as well for the protein. A Greek salad (also known as Horiatiki salad), is a popular salad in Greek cuisine where you use pieces of tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and olives, dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. There is not a lot of information or history about who’s or the why’s behind the combining of the Greek salad and the pasta salad, but we know that is a great creation.

One of the most important things to remember while making a pasta salad is to choose the right pasta shape. I would recommend choosing something more on the sturdy side, like penne, rotini and farfalle (commonly known as bow-tie or butterfly pasta). This might seem trivial, but the right shape helps in retaining the dressing, otherwise the dressing will slip right off the pasta, and you might not get all the desired flavors in.  

What vegetables go in a Greek Pasta Salad?

Since you are combining Greek salads and pasta salads here, the veggies you can consider are what aligns with that of a traditional Greek salad. To start off, you shouldn’t add any lettuce as this is against the idea of a traditional Greek salad. That being said, if you want to add an American touch to it, you may add lettuce. Common veggies include tomatoes (regular or cherry tomatoes), cucumber, onion, olives (typically Kalamata olives).

Is Greek salad healthy?

Greek salads are relatively healthy, owing to the fact that you add a good blend of healthy vegetables and the vitamins and minerals these veggies bring to the table. So, it is a healthy and tasty treat. The addition of the pasta, while making a Greek salad into a Greek pasta salad, does increase the calorie intake. Taking this into account, its best to use a healthful pasta choice, such as whole wheat pasta.

How to store pasta salad?

Extra or leftover pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 to 5 days. I would not recommend freezing the pasta salad. If it was just cooked pasta, then it’s a different story; you can easily toss the pasta in with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and then freeze them (oil prevents pasta from sticking to each other). Since there are veggies in the pasta, you lose a majority of the texture when you freeze and thaw them.

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Serving size: 4 servings

Ingredients

Marinade

  • Lemon squeeze– ¼ cup
  • Olive oil – ¼ cup
  • Garlic – 3 cloves
  • Dried oregano – ½ tbsp
  • Salt – ½ tsp salt
  • Pepper – 1 tsp (or to taste)

Salad

  • Chicken breasts (skinless & boneless) – 2
  • Penne pasta – 8 oz.
  • Bell pepper – 1
  • Tomatoes (any kind) – 4 oz.
  • Cucumber – ½ (approx. 1.5 cup diced)
  • Feta – 2 oz.
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dressing: Combine the garlic and mix them with lemon squeeze, olive oil, oregano, pepper, and salt, in a small bowl.
  2. Cut the chicken pieces into 1-inch pieces. Put the cut chicken in a large sealable freezer bag.
  3. Add half of the prepared dressing to the bag. Keep the remaining dressing for drizzling into the salad in the end.
  4. Try to push out as much air as possible from the bag.
  5. Spread the dressing around by sort of massaging the chicken in the bag. Or if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then you can just put your hands in and rub the dressing on the chicken yourself.
  6. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. If you leave it overnight, then all the better.
  7. Cooking the pasta: In a medium pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and let it cook. Drain it out into a colander and let it cool down.
  8. Once the chicken is marinated for 30 minutes, heat a pan on medium heat. Drizzle the olive oil on the pan and wait for it to heat up.
  9. Place the marinated chicken on the pan, and let it cook on each side for about 7 to 8 minutes or until cooked. Remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool.
  10. Dice up the cucumber, bell pepper and tomatoes into small pieces. Pull out the parsley leaves from the step and chop them up into small pieces.
  11. In a large bowl, combine the salad. Add in the cooled pasta, cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, parsley and cut chicken.
  12. Add crumbled feta on top and finish it off with the remaining dressing.
  13. Serve cold.

I would love to hear any feedback or questions you have about this great recipe and blog post from Akshita.

Wishing you a happy, healthy week ahead!

Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN

Denver’s Dancing Dietitian

A Taste of Health, LLC

“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”

denversdancingdietitian.com