Tender penne noodles and juicy seasoned chicken tossed with red peppers, sundried tomatoes, sharp white cheese, and a rich and creamy parmesan dressing!
Are you as sad as I am to see Summer coming to an alarmingly swift end? I’m not ready. Well I am and I’m not. It’s a bittersweet thing that seems to happen every single year at this time. I love Summer time. The drippy ice cream cones and backyard bbqs, the county fair and rodeos, the flip flops and tan lines, the trips to the lake and coast. I look forward to it all winter long. But at the same time, the end of Summer means the beginning of Fall and I really, truly adore Fall.
I’m calling this a transitional salad. The first step in edging away from Summer and inching into Fall. It can be made all year long of course. But it’s where my head is right now – stuck between two really amazing seasons and all that comes with them. For some reason that I can’t quite put into words, that’s what this salad is tasting like to me. Full of summer-to-fall flavor. Whatever that is.
Real quick though, let’s focus on this dressing. This super creamy, pungent parmesan dressing. I’m considering purchasing one of those kiddie pools with the fishes on the side that are on clearance right now just so that I can fill it entirely with this parmesan dressing. Because that’s about how much it would take to satisfy this addiction I’ve developed. And I know it’s green but please don’t confuse this with the green goddess dressing that is so popular these days. I’m on board with that, I really am, but this is a whole different ball game. A rich parmesan and parsley kind of thing and it’s 110% amazing. I sort of want to pour it on e.ver.y.thing.
This salad is perfect either as main dish – hello robust chicken, cheese, and pasta – or a side dish along side any favorite dinner dish. I may or may not have been spotted eating it at both 8:47 am and 11:52 pm. So don’t feel alone if you find yourself wanting to eat leftovers for breakfast. Or a late night snack. Or any other time you might fancy a bite. That is if you are lucky enough to have any leftovers.
- 1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (1 tsp per chicken breast)
- 2 cups dry penne pasta, regular or whole wheat
- 4 cups baby spinach or similar dark greens
- 1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- 1 7-ounce jar sundried tomatoes (about ⅔-1 cup), chopped
- 1 cup diced white cheese (smoked mozzarella, sharp white cheddar, creamy havarti, etc)
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup fat free plain greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayo (I used light)
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper)
- Place penne in a medium sauce pan. Cover noodles with water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender. Drain and set aside.
- Season chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook in an oiled pan or skillet over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into 1 inch pieces.
- In a large bowl toss together penne, chicken, spinach, red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and cheese.
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Pour dressing over salad ingredients, toss to combine, and serve.