Mandarin and Apple Chicken Pasta Salad
This tasty chicken pasta salad is healthy and appealing. The main ingredients are pasta, chicken and mandarin orange segments, and then we are also using carrot, cucumber, red onion, red apple, and toasted almonds. The dressing features ginger, orange, garlic, onion soup mix, and more, for a full-flavored taste. Make it ahead then chill it for the flavors to mingle. The salad is served on a bed of lettuce, and you can choose from iceberg, baby spinach, arugula, or simply some mixed baby leaves.
This is a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey, or you could even use shrimp or tofu as your protein for a change of pace. If you do not have leftover meat, it is easy enough to chop and stir-fry some chicken in oil, or even poach it in slowly simmering water until done. The first way yields golden brown chicken, while the second gives you soft chicken, so it is just down to personal preference. The almonds, apple and onion add a distinctive crunch which balances out nicely with all the softer ingredients used in this recipe.
We used pasta shells but if you prefer twists, penne, wheels, macaroni, or another shape, any of those would work. This recipe would also work with egg noodles but that is getting away from the Italian-ness of the dish, so we usually use pasta here to keep it more authentic. This dish is Italian-influenced rather than traditional Italian, but it is still really good, and well worth making because the pasta, chicken and mandarin are beautiful together. Go ahead and make any tweaks you want though.
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
- 1 shredded carrot
- 11 oz canned mandarin orange segments, drained
- ½ sliced cucumber
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 1 cored, sliced red apple
- ½ cup sliced toasted almonds
- 6 oz salad leaves
- Fresh rosemary, for garnish (optional)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 oz dry onion soup mix
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Whisk the ginger, orange juice, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, onion soup mix, sugar, and olive oil to make the dressing.
- Cover and refrigerate it.
- Fill a pot with water and bring it to the boil.
- Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water.
- Put it in a bowl.
- Add the chicken, carrot, orange segments, cucumber, red onion, apple and onion to the pasta.
- Toss well.
- Divide the salad leaves between 6 serving bowls.
- Pour the dressing into the pasta mixture and toss to coat evenly.
- Spoon the pasta salad on top of the salad leaves and serve immediately.
- Garnish each plate with a sprig of fresh rosemary if liked, or another type of fresh herb.
This colorful salad blends Italian ingredients with some Asian flavor accents to create something healthy, appetizing and really flavorful. The combination of chicken, fruit, pasta, and our tangy homemade dressing means you are getting lots of flavor in every bite. This is a great way to use up leftover cooked pasta or chicken, or you can cook either of those ingredients in just a few minutes, running the pasta under cold water to cool it down fast, or using the chicken warm instead of chilled if you want. As for the apple, if you slice it ahead rub some lemon or lime on it to stop it discoloring.
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