Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Salad is the ultimate pasta salad without any mayo! A simple, yet addictive cold pasta salad made with crunchy broccoli, chicken bits, red bell pepper, onion and feta cheese drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil!
This Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Salad is an addictive meal, a “wake up in the middle of the night for a bite” meal… a “you have more than me” meal. This is a recipe from way back in the days, when I used to sleep over at my friend’s house and her mom knew I was coming. Then, she would make me that pasta salad. I could simply not get enough, it looks somehow like a boring and simple pasta salad but there is something in it, that makes it impossible to stop… With the years, I transformed it to my taste a bit, I’ve added the feta cheese, and fresh basil leaves.
The simplest of dressing
The dressing for this pasta salad is simply a fresh extra-virgin olive oil and that’s it! But, please, not the kind sold in transparent plastic bottle. If you want a real good olive oil, it needs to be fresh from the year… The best bottles usually are dark greenish colored and shows you the date of production. Yes, you’ll pay a bit more but the difference is tremendous! With this fresh olive oil, simply, everyone will ask you what is the secret of this meal. Since ages, people marinate and conserve their food in this golden liquid, it is simply the best!
A meal that gains flavor in the fridge
Also, this salad become better the longer it stays in the fridge. All the flavours mix up good then, so it’s one of those few meals that gets better over time. Another plus of this recipe is that once done, you have it for a while, lunch for the kids for example. You’ll see, soon the little friends of your kids will ask you for it, just like I did!
This pasta salad stays covered in the fridge for a good 3 days. It goes perfectly for lunch, picnics, even a party event! Just careful not to let the chicken more than an hour at room temperature.
Sometimes I would add a few Kalamata olives in there to give it this extra salty punch. Other times, I would switch the onions for fresh scallions or omit the feta. It’s a meal easy to customise to your taste! The basic is the marinated chicken bits and broccoli, the rest is up to you!
What to serve it with
Here are a few drinks that would compliment well this recipe:
So let’s make that pasta salad!
Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Salad
- 400 g penne (could be fusilli, farfalle, etc.)
- 2 chicken breasts ( cut into small dices)
- 200 g feta cheese (cut into small cubes)
- 1 red bell pepper (cut into small pieces)
- 1 onion (cut into small pieces)
- 1 broccoli (cut into small florets)
- 2 tbsp dried basil or thyme
- 50 ml olive oil
- fresh basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- Cook the pasta following directions, drain and rinse in cold water.
- In a big pan or wok, at medium high heat, cook the cubes of chicken in the olive oil with the thyme, salt and pepper.
- In the same pan or wok, cook at medium-high heat the vegetables until al dente, adding the broccoli 2 minutes before the rest with 3 tbsp of water.
- Add vegetables into the pasta pot and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients; marinated chicken, feta, fresh basil, salt and pepper mix and serve.