Asian Chicken Pasta Salad

(Photo © EMR)

This recipe is loosely based on one I used to make from an Eating Well cookbook I received as a Christmas present many years ago. Since I no longer have the cookbook, I can’t tell you how similar this is to the original, as I’ve adapted and changed things through the years to make it even healthier. Since there are a few steps here, cooking the chicken and pasta, I tend to make this in advance, so dinner is ready to go on those busier evenings. But it definitely can be made on those nights you have a little more time, as well.

As always, proportions are approximations. If you want less pasta and more chicken (or vice versa), create away! If you’re a vegetarian, you can substitute tofu or different vegetables in place of the chicken. I usually load up on the vegetables in my salads, more filling and less calories!

Asian Chicken Pasta Salad
3 cups farfalle (bowtie) pasta or any other small-shaped pasta
2 large boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced into bite-size pieces
1 red pepper, sliced
1 1/2 cups diced celery
Chopped scallions, about 1/4 cup or so
Chopped fresh ginger, a tablespoon or so
A few dashes of sesame seeds

Dressing
2 teaspoons sesame oil (you can definitely use more, but I find sesame oil very rich and I try to keep the fat content down)
1 Tablespoon miso paste*
Rice vinegar, enough to make a thin dressing with the miso

In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta, chicken, pepper, celery, scallions, sesame seeds, and ginger. Add the sesame oil and stir until incorporated. In a small bowl, add miso paste and enough vinegar to thin it to the consistency you desire. Add to the salad and thoroughly mix. Serve on its own or over greens.

*Miso paste  is made from rice and/or soy and is used as a base for soups and dressings in Asian cooking. I find a 13 ounce tub to be on the pricey side, upwards of $6 or so, but it lasts for years and adds a nice nutty flavor to whatever you are cooking. It is fairly salty, so be sure to taste your dish before adding any additional salt.