Strawberries are everywhere, including in boxes my fridge. My P.S. (Personal Shopper/hubby) apparently went on a spree. He fueled my fruit fury. It was time to play another game of “What weird way can I serve up fruit in a savory dish?” Besides throwing them on lettuce salad, which would be just too easy. Everyone does that.
I did an internet search and ended up pinning quite a few tasty looking dishes and muffins to Pinterest, but still hadn’t found the one recipe that made me raise my arms in the air and shout “YES!” I actually do that sometimes when nobody’s around. Well, I’d high 5 if there was someone else around with a hand. It’s just weird to do that with yourself.
So on I searched for something that wasn’t being rehashed in blog after blog. I decided a cold pasta salad would be good, and not many blogs had ventured that far. I didn’t exactly find the recipe that I was dreaming of, but I found two recipes that came close. Both were from brand name sites. Of course Kraft would be in the front line in a recipe for a pasta salad. Mayo was almost a given.
Predictably, the Kraft pasta salad recipe called for their bottled dressing with poppy seeds. I searched for a from-scratch recipe and ended up on the Betty Crocker site. They had the most interesting version, and also the easiest. I decided to make their poppy seed salad dressing and use it in the recipe for the Kraft salad.
Next it was necessary to do an early morning run to the grocery for missing ingredients. My poppy seeds were very old and one sniff determined that we aren’t regular poppy seed eating people. Stale! Fresh seeds were going to be essential for the poppy seed dressing in the Kraft recipe.
I also wanted a protein in the salad. I wanted this to be a complete meal, unlike the pasta salad recipe that was more of a side dish with just pasta, fruit and veggies. I wanted some rotisserie chicken and had no luck in finding any in two different grocery stores. I finally settled on the Hormel brand no-preservatives roasted chicken pieces. It was either that or ham, and I thought chicken would be better with all of the fruit.
As I was zipping by the deli cheeses section I grabbed a package of crumbled goat cheese. It wasn’t in the Kraft recipe but I’d seen it used in several other strawberry lettuce salad recipes and so it became an addition to my recipe.
Back home I salted and boiled water and got the bowtie pasta going. I stuck to the recipe’s pasta shape; bowties are fun and I don’t use them often enough. As the pasta cooked to al dente, I cut my green onions into thin slices and set them aside.
The dressing was a basic four ingredient recipe: mayo, sugar, poppy seeds and sugar. I whisked them together, and it was as simple as that. No bottled mix required. When they called it 5-Minute Poppy Seed Dressing, they weren’t kidding!
I was going to double the pasta salad, so I used the whole cup of dressing I’d just made. It was just 1/3 cup extra and the al dente pasta was going to suck up a lot of the dressing in the fridge anyway. I added the mayo from the pasta salad recipe to it, and whisked again until it was smooth. I added the green onions and waited for the pasta to be done.
Successfully drained and rinsed in cold water to stop the cooking, I put the pasta into the bowl and stirred well to coat it with the dressing. That was it! I was done for now, and into the fridge it went with a lid on it. The fruit was to be added at the last minute, as well as the chicken.
For dinner I only had to add the chicken to the salad, and add the strawberries I’d asked my P.S. to wash and cut up since he was home first. I drained the mandarin oranges and added those to the bowl, then sliced up some baby spinach and added that as well. Spinach was another deviation from the Kraft recipe, but one I thought would be welcome as it is commonly paired with strawberries in lettuce salads.
I tossed the salad together and served it with goat cheese sprinkled on each serving and slices of sourdough bread. On a 90+ degree day it was a lovely cold meal that was fairly quick and easy. The flavors were a great blend of sweet, salty and tangy. The strawberries stole the show along with the flavors of the poppy seed dressing. The spinach added a nice green touch and the pasta, well that was the comfort food aspect. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a pasta salad I didn’t like, hot or cold!
The recipe made about 4 large servings and we were probably too quick to mix it all for one meal. The strawberries lost their freshness but were still good, albeit a little soggy, the second day. It might be wise to mix individual portions and keep the fruit separated from the pasta when storing any leftovers.
Poppy Seed Dressing
¾ cup mayo or salad dressing
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Whisk together and refrigerate until used.
Strawberry Chicken Pasta Salad
4 cups farfalle; cooked al dente according to box directions (I used the whole box)
1 cup poppy seed dressing
½ cup mayo
8 green onions; sliced
2 cans mandarin oranges; drained
2 cups fresh strawberries; sliced
2 cups baby spinach; sliced
2 cups of roasted chicken; cubed
Goat cheese; crumbled, garnished to taste
Prepare poppy seed dressing. Add ½ cup may to it and whisk again.
Add pasta, green onions and dressing to a bowl and stir to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prepare fruits, chicken and spinach and refrigerate separately until ready to serve.
Using about ¼ of each ingredient, toss together in a bowl and plate, topping with crumbled goat cheese.