Pasta salad is a favorite in my home especially with this sweet and tangy dressing. It is ideal for a light summer dinner or a luncheon because it can be made in advance. However, I don't just make this in the summer or spring. It's perfect anytime you want a great tasting pasta salad.
It is usually served with Banana Nut Bread. The flavors complement each other perfectly.
- 4 chicken breast, bone-in with skin
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 pkg bowtie pasta
- 1 lb fresh broccoli
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
Bake the pecans in a 350 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. (Photo A) Remove and let cool completely. Chop pecans and set aside.
I always start my salad by roasting four large chicken breasts. Purchase chicken on the bone with the skin attached. You could buy a roasted chicken at the store if you are short on time and shred or chop the chicken meat.
I use the Barefoot Contessa’s method of roasting chicken. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken breast on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with 1 tsp salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped thyme on the chicken. (Photo B) Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. (Photo C) When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and chop the chicken.
Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Cook the pasta al dente so it’s firm enough when tossed with the dressing.
Cut broccoli florets from stem and separate into small pieces. (Photo D) Blanch the florets in boiling water for 1 minute. (Photo E) Plunge the broccoli into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. (Photo F) Remove from the water and drain completely.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, red onion and vinegar in a large bowl. (Photo G and H) Add the hot cooked pasta, broccoli, grapes and chicken. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Stir pecans into salad just before serving.
Adapted from Southern Living Recipe: Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad