Healthy Chicken Pasta Salad is a spinach salad with penne pasta, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, toasted slivered almonds, and a fresh citrus vinaigrette.
Hey everyone! It’s Chelsea from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. I’m bringing a healthier spinach and chicken salad with pasta today and I hope you all love it!
Instead of the typical mayo or cream-laden based dressing, this dressing is very light and citrus-y making this salad so much healthier than most pasta salads. But it’s definitely NOT lacking on flavor. If you like lemon and orange, you will be obsessed with this dressing!
- 1 heaping cup (4 ounces) miniature penne pasta measured dry
- 1 cup prepared chicken leftover marinated and grilled chicken or leftover rotisserie chicken
- 4 ounces baby spinach stems removed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds toasted
- 1 large orange 2 teaspoons zest; 4 tablespoons juice
- 1 large lemon ½ teaspoon zest; 2 tablespoons juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard do not use regular
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup olive oil vegetable oil or canola oil can also be used
- Optional: freshly cracked pepper, fresh parsley
- Cook the pasta according to package direction. Drain and then rinse with cold water.
- Place the cooled pasta in a large bowl. Add in the spinach and the halved cherry tomatoes.
- Briefly warm up and then coarsely chop the leftover grilled chicken. Add to salad and toss to combine.
- Lightly toast the almonds over a skillet on medium heat until fragrant. Sprinkle the almonds and feta cheese over the salad.
- For the dressing: combine all of the ingredients together except for the oil in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well incorporated. Slowly add in the oil in a steady stream and pulse until combined.
- Toss the salad with the dressing (to taste; you may not want/need all of it) and enjoy.
- ONLY toss what you plan on eating as the dressing makes the spinach "soggy" for leftovers.
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