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081122 food column

Bite by Bite

Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time

By Emily Banks Wooten

So not long ago I went on Facebook and asked for ideas for summer suppers that didn’t require the oven. I was flooded with great suggestions and wrote about them in the July 31 issue of Bite by Bite. I was amazed by the number of suggestions that should have been obvious, yet I hadn’t thought about them. What can I say? Sometimes I simply can’t see the forest for the trees.

Anyway,  a number of people suggested chicken salad and pasta salad. Some even suggested combining the two. I was entranced and started looking at various recipes for chicken salads and pasta salads. There are hundreds. You could actually have some form of a chicken or pasta salad every day for a long time without repeating one of them. Trust me. I know. My family and I recently enjoyed some semblance of chicken and/or pasta salad three days in a row and all three were so different that we didn’t feel we were having the same meal three days in a row.

There were two that intrigued me from themom100.com, a recipe blog that I frequently read. One was called “Pasta Salad with Chicken and Chipotle Dressing” and the other was called “BLT Pasta Salad” and the author even suggested adding cubed chicken or grilled corn kernels.

And then I remembered – and was actually able to put my hands on – a wonderful recipe for chicken salad that Lyndy, a friend of mine, shared with me many, many years ago after serving it to our bunco group one night.

I made them all and as I mentioned earlier, they were all different enough that we didn’t feel like we were having the same meal three nights in a row. I loved all three. Hubby and Daughter liked them all but they both agreed that their favorite one was the BLT one. Try them. I think you’ll enjoy them. And if you happen to know of, or discover, a really good or different chicken or pasta salad, let me know and we can share it.


“Hunger doesn’t take a vacation. Summer meals matter.” – Jim Weill


Lyndy’s Chicken Salad

Mix together:
— 2 cups cooked chicken
— ½ cup celery
— 2 green onions, chopped
— 2 tsp. chopped walnuts
— ⅓ cup mayonnaise
— 3 tbs. plain yogurt
— 1 tbs. mustard
— 1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
My notes:
• I used chopped pecans instead of walnuts.
• I used Greek plain yogurt.
• I used Dijon mustard
• Lyndy served these on split croissant rolls but I
served them on sweet Hawaiian sandwich buns.


Pasta Salad with Chicken and Chipotle Dressing
From themom100.com

For the Chipotle Dressing:
— ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
— ¼ cup white wine vinegar
— ¼ cup minced shallot
— 1 tablespoon honey
— 2 teaspoons pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
— Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Pasta Salad:
— 4 cups small cooked pasta
— 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
— 1 15.5-ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
— 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper diced
— Handful fresh cilantro leaves
• In a small container, combine the olive oil, vinegar, onion, honey, chipotle and salt and pepper. Shake to combine.
• In a serving bowl combine the pasta, chicken, beans and pepper and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss again, then add the cilantro and give a final toss to distribute the herbs.


081122 food column two

BLT Pasta Salad
From themom100.com

— 10 slices bacon
— 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
— 4 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
— 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
— 1 pound small chunky-shaped pasta (bow tie, gemelli, fusilli, small shells, penne rigate) 
— ½ cup mayonnaise
— ½ cup Ranch or Caesar dressing, store-bought or homemade
— ¼ cup milk
— Juice of 1 lemon
— ¼ cup grated Parmesan
— 1 avocado, diced (optional)
— Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

• Line a plate with paper towels. Place the bacon in a large skillet or pan over medium high heat. Cook until crispy on both sides, about 8 minutes in all. Use tongs to remove the bacon to the paper towel-lined plate. 

• Pour off the fat from the pan, then add the tomatoes, lettuce and scallions to the hot pan. Off the heat, toss the vegetables in the warm bacon fat until everything is lightly coated with bacon grease and the lettuce wilts just a bit.

• Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until tender. Drain the pasta and set aside to cool to room temperature.

• In a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, milk, lemon juice, Parmesan, avocado (if using) salt and pepper. Add the cooled, cooked pasta. Add the vegetables from the pan. Crumble or slice the cooked bacon and add all but about ½ cup to the bowl.

• Toss well to thoroughly mix, and top with the reserved ½ cup crumbled bacon. Serve at room temperature.

My notes:
• I used a bag of romaine lettuce.
• I used bow tie pasta.
• I added the diced avocado.
• I added about 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken.

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