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!

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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