Many times, the inspiration for a dish comes from one simple ingredient I have on hand. In this case, it was these beautiful, flavorful tomatoes. Cherry sized kumatos.
One thing led to another, and before long I had a delicious, healthy entree worthy salad ready for the taking.
It was a sunny, yet crisp afternoon that I wandered into our garden. I was harvesting the vegetables that remained before Jack Frost beat me to the job! These little tomatoes were bountiful. I also found 2 small cucumbers, a variety of peppers, a lone (slightly misshaped) zucchini, 1 globe eggplant and a half dozen Japanese eggplants.
I knew the eggplant would be used for another round of Fae’s Moussaka. The rest left me thinking.
Me, thinking, can be a dangerous activity…just ask Glenn!
Thank goodness it didn’t take long to realize having a few more ingredients lurking in the pantry and refrigerator, I could produce a fresh, flavorful and filling meal in no time.
Cannellini beans + pasta + fresh baby spinach + fresh mozzarella + chicken + the prime garden picks = dinner (plus a lunch the next day, too)!
I used a simple concoction of lemon olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, fresh chopped basil and oregano to both marinate the chicken and to dress the salad. It was light and flavorful.
Garden Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken
For the salad:
8 ounces pasta, any shape
15 ounce can cannellini beans
12-18 cherry sized tomatoes, quartered
4 cups baby spinach, loose packed
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 cups assorted chopped vegetables (I used a variety of peppers, cucumbers, etc)
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (substitute breast meat if desired)
For the dressing/marinade:
12 ounces white balsamic vinegar
6 Tablespoons lemon infused olive oil
2 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
- In a measuring cup, whisk dressing/marinade until well blended.
- Place chicken in a zip-top bag, pour half of dressing/marinade in the bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the salad.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.
- Drain and rinse the cannellini beans.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta, beans, tomatoes, mozzarella and chopped vegetables (not the spinach). Dress the salad with remaining dressing to taste. I used about 1/2 of the remaining dressing, reserving the remaining amount for serving. Place salad in refrigerator.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing excess to drip off. Discard the marinade. Grill chicken over medium-high heat until internal temperature of 165°F is achieved.
- To serve, place approximately 1 cup of spinach on a serving plate, top with pasta salad and a cooked, sliced chicken thigh/breast. Serve with additional dressing.