Pesto Pasta Chicken Salad

My aunt and uncle came up to visit us a few weekends ago, it was such a fun time! We went to the Boardwalk & walked along the wharf. Aunt Lizzie with Lola & I:

On their way up, I texted and asked if they wanted to grab lunch somewhere when they arrived. My uncle responded with, “What, you don’t have a gourmet meal waiting for us?” I knew he was kidding, but then realized that I had this awesome pasta salad sitting in the fridge! So we had a good laugh and ate it when they got here.

This salad tastes wonderful warmed up, or cold straight out of the fridge. I love a versatile dish!

As I was slicing the mozzarella, Ada walked up behind me and said, “Oooooohhhhhh! CHEESE! That’s good for me, right?” Right, little one. You are so completely right :)

Pesto Pasta Chicken Salad Recipe

adapted from Real Simple

1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta

4  boneless, skinless chicken thighs (3/4 pound)

1  tablespoon  olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper

1/2  cup  chopped pitted kalamata olives

1  cup  halved bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)

3/4  cup  walnut pesto

Walnut Pesto Recipe:

1 cup walnuts

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

2 cups fresh basil leaves

Toss walnuts, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, cheese, and basil into food processor. Pulse while adding olive oil in a stream.

Once desired consistency is achieved, taste and add salt if needed.

Pasta Salad Directions:

Cook  pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and return to pot to let cool.

Heat oven to 400° F. Rub the chicken with the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes; shred. (You could sub any chicken

here. I took the time to cook the thighs and could taste a difference; my husband said he thought he was eating a

rotisserie chicken the whole time! So I’ll be saving myself the work and using easier chicken from now on).

Toss the pasta, shredded chicken, olives, and bocconcini with the pesto and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Top with seasonings to taste and freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy!

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