best easy dinner salad

A few years ago, a friend of mine invited me to a “ladies lunch group” that she had been a part of for many years.  I loved the concept of this lunch group!  There were four friends and they each hosted the lunch once a year.  The host decided the theme and menu for the lunch at their home.  The really fun twist was that each of the four ladies invited a friend to be their guest at each lunch, making it a group of eight each time.  The core group of four remained the same, but the additional guests were always different.

The lunch that I attended was in the spring, and the menu consisted of light salads.  Perfect for that time of year!  I left the host’s house with a few new recipes to add to my summer rotation of meals.

The one titled “best easy dinner salad” is quite a popular one at my house!  My family requests it at least every other week.  I’ve made a few tweaks to it over the years, as well.  One being that I don’t put the chicken it, but rather serve it on the side…my vegetarian daughter appreciates that!


Salad Ingredients…

  • fresh baby greens
  • pint cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 6-8 roasted chicken strips
  • pound bowtie pasta (cooked al dente)
  • 8 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (shaved)

Dressing Ingredients…

  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper



I usually cook the chicken and pasta in the morning.  This allows time for these ingredients to cool before adding them to the salad.  In fact, I put them in the fridge for the remainder of the day until I put the salad together just before serving.


Using a large bowl, combine the baby greens, pasta, and the cherry tomatoes.



Add the cheese and toss it all together.  I usually add some pepper, too.  At this point, you can cut the chicken into smaller pieces and add it.  Like I mentioned, I keep it on the side because not everyone eats meat in my family.


In a separate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing.  Now you can drizzle this right on the salad and toss OR serve it on the side.  I serve it on the side for many reasons…each person can put as much (or little) dressing as they wish on their salad, I can make it ahead for those busy nights when we eat at different times and the salad doesn’t become soggy, and the leftovers are much better.



This salad has something for everyone…pasta, chicken, leafy greens, and a light dressing.  It makes a wonderful flavor all together!

Try serving it with cheesy garlic pull-apart bread (click here for recipe) for a delicious accompaniment.


Hopefully, your family will be requesting it as often as mine does!


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