This light and fresh pasta salad could not be simpler to whip up! Full of summer veggies and grilled chicken, and then topped with a creamy fresh pesto dressing. Makes a perfect summer lunch or lighter dinner!
Simple summer salads. Because summer is all about simplicity and relaxing.
Ha. Who am I kidding? My summers are completely crazy and about as un-relaxing as you can get.
That’s where easy, stress-free dinners come in. Like this salad for example.
Early mornings are usually the least-crazy part of my usual summer days. That’s when I take the time to finish up blog posts, test recipes, do photo-shoots, ect. Also I sometimes make dinner ahead of time, usually mid-morning. That’s usually where my days start to spin out and get crazy.
I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m completely cray-cray for grilling chicken at only 12pm.
I really can’t help it though. I think I’ve mentioned before that I take all my photos out on my sun-porch, where the best lighting is.
Well, I usually only have a teeny-tiny window for taking photos between 11am and 1pm. So that means I’ve really gotta bust my butt and work fast to have the food all made and ready to be photographed in that tiny 2-hour space.
Not really doin’ much for my stress level.
But let’s talk about this salad. The real reason you’re here. 😉
I’m all about fresh salads in the summertime. Any dish that combines veggies with pasta, anything grilled, and pesto has my name written all over it.
This is one of my favorite summer salads of all time. It’s light, tasty, and SO full of fresh summery food!
You just might be inclined to eat it for breakfast.
Did you just gag a little bit there? Sorry. I eat weird things for breakfast sometimes. Don’t judge. 😛
So this salad is basically just sliced-up grilled chicken breasts, elbow pasta, a butt-load of fresh veggies, and a perfect pesto dressing to finish the whole ‘thang off.
There’s no weird ingredients in this salad. Just simple, every-day food that I’ll bet everyone has on hand regularly.
I usually use whatever fresh veggies I have on hand to make this salad. Feel free to throw in your favs! This salad is very adaptable, and that’s why I ♥ it so much! 😀
Simple ingredients but they yield YUM-TASTIC results.
Gosh, I’m so corny…
The pesto dressing just completes this salad. It adds an extra punch of herb-y flavor and tastes divine with the smoky chicken and the crunchy vegetables.
This salad is also a FAB way to use up leftover grilled chicken. Last night’s grilled chicken is today’s gorgeously-fresh lunch salad.
I love this salad for lunch, but it’s also filling enough for a lighter dinner. Since it’s a meal-in-one you don’t even have to make anything else!
Okay, actually these breadsticks would go fabulously with this salad. Just ‘sayin.
Your Monday needs this salad. ‘Nuff said. 😉
Grilled Chicken Veggie Pasta Salad with Pesto Dressing
- 16 oz elbow pasta
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 large sweet pepper thinly sliced
- 1 large tomato thinly sliced
- 1 can 6 oz sliced olives
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- PESTO DRESSING:
- 3/4 cup prepared pesto
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Place pasta in a large bowl and set aside.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill chicken on a gas or charcoal grill, turning frequently until juices run clear, about 20-25 minutes. Thinly slice chicken and set aside.
Add chicken to pasta and stir in pepper, tomato, olives, and basil. Season pasta salad with salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until smooth. Drizzle pesto dressing over individual servings of pasta salad.
Store pasta salad and dressing in refrigerator up to 2 days.
Try my other fresh summer meals next!