Packed with sautéed rotisserie chicken, pasta, basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, toasted pecans, this summer pasta salad is easy, flavorful and great for prepping ahead. Creamy Chicken pesto pasta salad for all your summer barbecues or just in your lunch box.
Welcome to the second post on leftover rotisserie chicken series!
Cheap, convenient and the meat can be used in endless possibilities <— lunch, dinner, snack and even summer barbecues.
Why are you gonna love this creamy chicken pesto pasta salad?
- Uses leftover ingredients
- Great for meal prep
- Pot lucks
- Tastes A-H-M-A-Z-I-N-G
A secret technique in making this Not-ANOTHER-BORING chicken pasta salad with rotisserie chicken is that we saute shredded rotisserie chicken with a touch of olive oil. Chicken gets golden and crispy around the edges making it much more delicious. Check out this Really Good Rotisserie Chicken Salad Sandwich with Avocado that adopts the same technique.
A quick run through of the ingredients to make this summer pasta salad:
- Chicken – We use rotisserie chicken for convenience. Chopped rotisserie chicken is sautéed with olive oil, salt and pepper and cooled down before tossing into the pasta salad. You could totally skip this step, but why would you when you could add so much additional flavor?
- Pasta – I preferred to use penne pasta since we use a lot of it around here, like this Chicken Parmesan Pasta . But, you could totally use any other type of short pasta.
- Basil Pesto – Store bought basil pesto for convenience. Got more pesto? Try this Potato Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Mayo – Creamy goodness
- Cherry tomatoes – Fresh, vibrant, sweet, tart addition!
- Toasted Pecans – Gives a nutty, crunchy addition. Skip if you don’t have any.
Let us get to the process of making this easy chicken pesto pasta salad:
Step-1: Cook pasta in salted boiling water. Drain and cool. Alternatively, you could use any leftover pasta.
Step-2: Chop rotisserie chicken. Saute chicken in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cool
Step-3: Toast pecans. Place pecans in sheet pan and bake for 5-10 minutes in a pre heated 350 degree oven, until toasted. Cool and chop.
Step-4: Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
Step-4: Stir pasta chicken, pesto, mayo, cherry tomatoes, toasted pecans, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Done and DONE.
Refrigerate if not serving right away.
Can I use other types of chicken ?
ABSOLUTELY! Here are your alternatives:
- Plain chopped rotisserie chicken
- Toss boneless, skinless chicken thighs with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a pre heated 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Cool chop into pieces.
- Chop boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast into small chunks and season with salt and pepper. Heat one or two tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through. Cool.
- Any roasted chicken from last night’s dinner
Can creamy chicken pesto pasta salad be made ahead?
This is a great pasta salad to be made ahead.
Cooked pasta, cooked chicken can be stored in refrigerator. Store toasted pecans at room temperature. Toss everything together before serving.
Alternatively, make the pesto pasta salad and store in refrigerator until serving time.
Love pasta? Check out more easy pasta recipes:
Instant pot Chicken Parmesan Pasta – This Instant Pot chicken parmesan pasta recipe is an easy weeknight dinner recipe. All the flavors of classic chicken parmesan made into a one pot, comforting meal. Easiest clean up!
Instant Pot No-Cream Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce – So creamy, so rich, so amazing yet so much healthier Instant pot no-cream pasta with tomato cream sauce. You will never miss the cream!
Instant Pot Gluten Free Pasta Shakshuka – A 20 minute weeknight meal! No fuss, easy instant pot gluten free pasta shakshuka is one of my favorite recipe mashups!
Leftover Pasta Pizza – An amazing use for any leftover pasta with tomato sauce. Leftover pasta pizza is so simple yet impressive for a quick weeknight dinner or lunch and no one will mind eating leftovers!
Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
- 6 ounces penne pasta or any other dried short pasta
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 tablespoons basil pesto
- 1/2 (scant) cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and ground black pepper, as needed
- Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente — soft with just a bit of chew — 7-8 minutes or according to package directions. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.Quickly cool the pasta. Drain the pasta in a colander and run under cold water. Dunk the colander in the ice bath and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta very well.
- Toss rotisserie chicken with olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper in a non-stick or cast iron skillet. Place pan over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally until chicken is slightly crisped and gets golden brown bits. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.
Make creamy chicken pesto pasta salad
- Add cooked pasta, sautéed chicken, halved cherry tomatoes, toasted pecans, basil pesto, mayo, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time or pack into meal prep containers and store in the refrigerator.
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