This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is delicious. It could be served as just a pasta salad or just as a butter lettuce salad, but the two combined makes a dish that is both unique and visually interesting. It also takes a bit longer to make because there are several components and several of the components require cooking before they get incorporated into the final salad. The dressing is a cinch and can be used for a pasta or a Romaine salad at another time. If you are going to make this salad, you have to make it with intent and planning. It’s good and definitely worth the effort.
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All-Seasons, Appetizer, Brunch, Different, For Foodies
You can substitute store bought croutons for the fresh croutons and skip the step charring the Romaine, although this step does add a lot of flavor. You could also skip the butter lettuce and just serve the pasta salad, but I think that this lst step adds both visual and taste contrasts and actually makes the salad.
Degree of Difficulty
3/4cupdry orecchiette or fussili pasta
water for cooking
3-4slicesciabatta breadcubed into 1" pieces
olive oil for drizzling
1tbspnwhite wine vinegar
1heartof Romaine lettucecut in half
8-10mediumleaves of butter lettucetorn in half
drizzle of olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1cuprotisserie chickencut into 1/2" cubes
Gather all ingredients before starting the recipe
Bring water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan, season with kosher salt.
Add pasta and cook according to package description, drain, drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside to cool.
Cube rotisserie chicken into small cubes and add to cooled pasta.
Heat a grill or a non-stick pan on high for 2-3 minutes.
Lightly spray the Romaine on one side and place the lettuce on the grill or in the pan and until the lettuce has char marks on the first side, 2-3 minutes. Turn and repeat for the second side.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool, slice into 1/2" ribbons and add to cooled pasta and chicken.
Pre heat oven to 375°
Spread croutons on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil ans season with kosher salt. Toss to combine.
Toast in a pe heated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the croutons have a golden color.
Add all dressing ingredients except olive oil to a blender, pulse and then blend until the ingredients form a smooth paste.
Add olive oil in a steady stream while the blender is on high, and blend until you have a smooth emulsion, about 3-4 minutes.
Toss chicken, pasta and charred sliced Romaine with 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing, taste and adjust if more dressing is required.
Tear leaves into large pieces and add to a medium mixing bowl
Squeeze the juice from 1/2 of a large lemon onto lettuce
Drizzle lettuce with oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss to combine.
Spoon a generous portion of pasta on the center of a plate, top the salad with the butter lettuce leaves and add croutons.
Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
If this salad looks like it is long and complicated, it is because it is long, although not complicated. You have to be in the mood. I actually made this over 2 days the first time as I was planning to serve it for lunch and it just seemed like too much to tackle for a lunch. I cooked the pasta and made the dressing the day before and just left both on the counter overnight, then finished the rest of the recipe before lunch the next day. I'm glad I did, and have made the salad since. This time I just made the pasta the day before.