Summer Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad for a Snowy, Winter Night!

Finally! The east coast and southeast know what a real winter is like! Everyone is going crazy over this big snow storm — cancelled work, staying inside, etc….that amount of snow is basically a regular day in Chicago. At least here in the Midwest, we are prepared for heavy snowstorms, so I do sympathize for places like Atlanta that have never heard of snow. Anyways, it’s still frigid here with or without a snow storm, and I’m dreaming of summer days, where the only worry is who is picking up a keg for a BBQ. In my mind, it was summer, so on our dinner menu was a summer dish — Caesar Pasta Salad. We just bought a huge pint of Greek yogurt, so I’ve been trying to figure out new ways to use it before it goes well (substituting for mayo in tuna dishes, swapping for sour cream for taco night, etc), and then I came across THIS recipe for homemade Greek yogurt, Caesar dressing. I knew Eric wouldn’t feel satisfied with just a salad for dinner, so I made it more filling by making it a pasta salad that would fill up a hungry boy. It was so good, light, and with ingredients like grilled corn, it was the perfect distraction from the cold outside.

Creamy Caesar-Style Salad Dressing
Serves four — I did this in a plastic container and am storing leftover dressing in the fridge for future salads, veggie dippings, etc. 

– 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
– 2 tablespoons lemon juice
– ¼ cup Dijon mustard
– 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
– 2 small cloves garlic, minced or pasted (alternatively, use about 1 tablespoon granulated garlic, to your taste)
– Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
– 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, or until the dressing becomes the right consistency

Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 package of bow tie pasta

2 frozen chicken breasts (or any chicken that you have on hand)

1/2 cup of chopped red onion

1 cup of frozen corn (or fresh corn if you have it)

1 cup of chopped romaine lettuce

1/2 tablespoon of butter (for corn)

1 cup of croutons (see how I made my own below)

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup of Creamy Caesar Dressing (above)

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package. Drain, and set aside to cool.

Heat a nonstick pan to medium high, and place frozen chicken right on the pan to start cooking. (You can defrost the chicken, but a helpful tip from my sister that keeping it frozen keeps the meat juicy and I agree!). Cover pan to ensure chicken cooks all the way through. Once it is fully cooked, take off heat, cut into small pieces, and put aside.

While the chicken cooks, run warm water over the frozen corn (or ignore this step if you are using fresh corn). Once defrosted, put onto a pan, with the tablespoon of butter, and put into the oven under the Broil setting for about 3 minutes. Keep checking and flipping the corn kernels over until they look charred. This will make the corn taste like it is fresh off of an outside grill — memories of summer.

For the croutons, I used some leftover store bought garlic bread that we made with dinner a couple of nights ago. I cut up the leftover garlic bread into smaller pieces, and put them under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until crispy.

In a big bowl, toss pasta, cut up chicken, grilled corn, chopped red onion, chopped romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Add in Caesar dressing until it is covered (feel free to add as little or as much as you would like).

This was perfectly filling for a main course, and keeps well for leftover lunches, all while bringing a little bit of summer into these cold days!

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