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Super Easy Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

In our family, we have been making this Italian chicken pasta salad for years! We typically serve it as a main course for dinner, but it can easily be made for lunch or even a side dish. Not only is it delicious and refreshing, but it’s also perfect for meal prep. We make it and then store it in individual tupperwares so that we have delicious lunches throughout the week!

The dish is made of farfalle pasta (bow-tie pasta), sautéed chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onions, mozzarella pearls, and Italian dressing. I typically use Olive Garden’s Italian dressing, but if you have another favorite then use that instead! All these ingredients blend together perfectly to create a mouth-watering and filling salad.

Pasta Salad Needs Perfectly-Cooked Chicken

One of the most important ingredients in this Italian chicken pasta salad is the sautéed chicken. The chicken should be cooked perfectly to ensure that it is tender and juicy. Here are a couple of tips to cook the perfect chicken:

  1. Pound the chicken: Pounding the chicken to an even thickness ensures that it cooks evenly. It also tenderizes the meat by breaking down some of the muscle fibers. If the chicken is too thick, it’ll take too long for the inside to cook completely, and the outside will cook too long in the meantime.
  2. Season well: Chicken can be bland without seasoning, so season it well to enhance its flavor. This recipe uses a lot of seasonings. Don’t overdo it with the onion and garlic powder, however feel free to be generous with the Italian seasoning! Any extra seasoning will just mix into the rest of the salad, giving it a lot of flavor.
  3. Use a hot pan: A hot pan helps to sear the chicken and give it a golden crust. If the pan is not hot enough, the chicken may release moisture and steam instead of searing. This can lead to tougher, less flavorful chicken.
  4. Flip once: Flipping the chicken too often can make it take longer to cook and not cook evenly. This will dry it out. Flipping it once allows it to cook evenly on both sides and stay moist.
  5. Let it rest: Letting the chicken rest for 10 minutes after cooking allows the juices to settle, making it more tender and juicy. Cutting the chicken immediately after cooking can cause the juices to run out, leading to dry, tough meat.
  6. Cut against the grain: Cutting against the grain of the meat helps to break down the muscle fibers and make the chicken more tender. This makes the chicken easier to chew. You can easily identify the grain of the chicken by looking for the lines of muscle fibers running through it.

Super Easy Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Maddie Saxey Course: Main Dishes, Salads
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes
Calories

425

kcal

Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • 2 2 large chicken breasts

  • garlic powder

  • onion powder

  • Italian seasoning

  • salt

  • pepper

  • 1 Tbsp 1 olive oil

  • Other Mix-Ins
  • 1 pint 1 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 1 cucumber, sliced and quartered

  • 1 can (6 oz) 1 pitted black olives, halved

  • 3/4 3/4 red onion, sliced in small strips

  • 8 oz 8 mozzarella pearls

  • 1-2 cup 1-2 Olive Garden Italian dressing*

  • 1 lb 1 farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked according to instructions

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Pound out chicken using a meat mallet so that it is 1/2 inch thick.** Lightly season each side of the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then generously season each side with Italian seasoning.
  • Add the chicken to the frying pan and cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the chicken over and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Move the chicken to a plate and cover. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing the chicken. Slice the chicken into strips, going against the grain.
  • Add the cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, mozzarella pearls, and sliced chicken to a large bowl, and mix.
  • Add Italian dressing to the salad, starting with 1 cup and adding more according to your taste preference. Eat immediately, or store in the fridge and eat cold. Enjoy!

Notes

  • *You can use any type of Italian dressing, but I like this one the best! Add the dressing gradually and add as much as you like. Some dressings are stronger than others!
  • **You can either pound out the chicken, or cut it into two thin slices. Whichever is easiest!

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