I have been making this recipe for years. I threw some together for dinner last night and realized I hadn’t shared this recipe with you all yet. So, if you are wondering what to do with your leftover chicken, check out this awesome Bow Tie Pasta Salad recipe. It couldn’t be easier or more delicious. You are gonna love it!
Credit Where Credit is Due
I started making this pasta salad probably close to 15 years ago. I first was inspired when I tried a salad from the deli case at Roth’s grocery store back when I was living in Salem, OR. Their salad was really good, but it was pretty pricey (like $7 per pound I think). I couldn’t warrant spending that much on a pasta salad very often, so it was more of a splurge-day item for me.
Then one day I had some leftover chicken and decided to try to replicate the salad myself. The ingredients were pretty basic and it was so simple to make, I never bought it at the store ever again.
Chicken Caesar Bow Tie Pasta
I think that is what Roth’s called it, but I can’t remember since it has been so long. But no matter what it was called then, this is what I call it now…and it is so good!
This pasta salad is literally comprised of 4 ingredients:
- Bow Tie Pasta ( aka Farfalle)
- Cooked, Leftover Chicken Chunks
- Baby Spinach
- Caesar Dressing
The quantities of each of these really depends on how many leftovers you have and how many people you are cooking for. I have made as much as a full box of pasta to just a large handful. It is so easy to make you can just do what ever makes sense for your situation.
Last night I made about 2 handfuls of pasta. Then cut up one leftover thigh into small chunks. I only had about 1/3 of a bottle of dressing in my fridge, so that kind of dictated the amount of pasta I could make.
With bow tie pasta I do a lot of sampling as it is cooking to make sure the center is cooked before I pull it off. Several times I have called it done a little too soon so the middle of the pasta wasn’t fully cooked. Didn’t stop me from eating it, but it was a bit chewier than wanted.
Bow Tie pasta, also known as Farfalle, often comes in different size options. I like the medium sized version when available. I feel the mini ones are too hard to eat, and the big ones seem like over kill. Feel free to choose whatever makes you happy though.
You can make this with various types of leftover chicken. I have used charcoal grilled chicken, whole baked chicken, and rotisserie chicken.
The only thing to keep in mind is that if you gave your chicken an unusual seasoning to begin with it will alter the end flavor of the salad. Not that that is bad, but I personally wouldn’t use something like BBQ Sauced chicken. I guess if you get under the outer, sauced layer, that would probably be fine too.
Yesterday I used leftover boneless skinless chicken thighs that I had skewered and cooked in the rotisserie a couple days before. When I first started making this salad I always used white meat, but that isn’t necessary at all.
Over the years I have tried Iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce, Spinach, and baby spinach leaves. Baby Spinach is the best and the easiest.
Lettuce tastes fine, but it wilts very quickly. I like to make enough bow tie pasta salad to eat for a couple days, and you cannot do that with lettuce. Well, at least I can’t. If lettuce is totally fresh and green I will not eat it at all. So, basically it is only good for one day.
Spinach holds up much better. You can get a head on spinach and chop or rip it up into bite size pieces, but this does not come out nearly as pretty as with baby spinach. Plus, it is so much easier. I just buy a bag of baby spinach, wash it and throw it in. Best of all, it lasts for days if you need it to.
This is probably the most important part of this recipe. Since it coats everything, it has to be good. If you have a favorite homemade dressing recipe that you use, go for it. If, however, you want to keep this simple and buy some at the store, like me, I recommend Girard’s Caesar Dressing.
I have tried quite a few over the years. I used Cardini’s Original Caesar for a long time. I can’t remember why I stopped. I think it was because it got to be so expensive I started trying other brands. Girard’s goes on sale fairly often and I like it a lot, so it has become my go-to for the past few years.
One dressing I would like to steer you away from is “Newman’s Own Caesar”. This dressing is not good at all, in my opinion. It totally just tastes like eggs. So, as I said…not good… cringing a little just remembering how gross it was.
Finishing your Chicken Caesar Bow Tie Pasta Salad
Now just put the cooked pasta, chopped leftover chicken pieces, and baby spinach and put it in a bowl. Pour on some Caesar dressing and mix. It is that easy! If you think it needs more dressing then add some more. Remember, you can always add more, so don’t go nuts with your first pour.
Now you can just eat it up! Mmm…man this stuff is good. I can’t wait to go take a bite of it right now. Leftovers rock!
If you make enough Chicken Caesar Bow Tie Pasta to last for a couple days, you may need to add a little more dressing at some point. The noodles tend to just soak it up after a while. It still tastes good, but if you like it a bit saucy then your might want to spruce it up a touch.
Spicing it up
As you know, I like to give my food a kick. This pasta salad tastes so good just the way it is that you want to be careful what kind of extras you add to it. A really perfect solution for heating up this dish without altering the flavor is a new hot sauce I recently bought called Smokeshow Super Hot Sauce.
This Smokeshow sauce, which they also call “Habashow”, is an awesome way to add heat without altering the flavor. It like literally has no flavor, but has a nice kick to it. It is really inexpensive too. You can check out my review on that hot sauce, and links to their website by clicking here.
Well, I think that about wraps it up. Time to go enjoy your yummy bow tie pasta salad! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please let me know. I would love to hear from you. Talk to you soon!