Saturday, June 25, 2011

Recipe: Company’s Coming? Curry Chicken Pasta Salad with Grapes!

Love, like chicken salad a restaurant has, must be taken with blind faith or it loses its flavour. – Helen Rowland

Sunset at the cabin. Photo: slolee, Flickr ccl
When the weekend comes most of us try to make plans to spend time with family and friends. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the kitchen preparing food while everyone else is outside enjoying the beautiful weather.

Would you prefer drinks on the deck or slaving away in the kitchen? Whether you're at home or the cabin, this recipe lets you enjoy your weekend outside with everyone else. Not only does it take only about 1/2 hour to prepare, but it has the added bonus of actually improving in flavour if it is chilled for a while. So you can make it ahead and take it with you.

Photo: wayneandwax, Flickr ccl
The ingredient combination is interesting not only in flavours but also in textures. Soft chicken and pasta combined with crisp celery, pepper, green onions, and snap peas. Then there’s the sweetness of the grapes and the firm texture of the cashews. To guild the lily, it’s all tossed in a tart curry dressing.

I used chicken thighs for this recipe because they’re about 1/3 the cost of chicken breasts in our local groceries. Use chicken thighs or breasts in this recipe depending if you like dark or white meat, or if you wish substitute turkey for an altogether different flavour.

For a unique twist substitute the grapes for raspberries, pomegranate or blueberries. If using fruit that will “run” its colour, mix in carefully at the very end after the pasta has been added and tossed.

If you're having more than four people, this dish makes a great side dish for a backyard barbecue.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. I can almost guarantee you'll be asked for the recipe!

Curry Chicken Pasta Salad with Grapes
Prep  20 minutes  |  Cook 10 minutes  |  Serves 4 as a main dish

1/2 lb small shell pasta, or similar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb chicken, skinless & boneless
1 red pepper
1 bunch green onions
1 rib celery
1-1/2 cups seedless green grapes
1/2 lb sugar snap peas in pod
3/4 cup cashews, whole or pieces
juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1-12 tsp cracked black pepper

Bring salted water to a boil in a pot. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the suggested cooking time on the package.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Chop the chicken into small bite-sized pieces and fry in the oil until done through. Remove the pot from the heat.

While the chicken and pasta are cooking, chop the red pepper, green onions, celery and pea pods into “manageable” pieces. Add to the pot.

Slice the grapes in half and add to the chicken. Add in the cashews, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients together.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard and curry powder. Pour over the chicken mixture. After the pasta has finished cooking, drain well and add to the pot. Toss all together to coat with the dressing.

This pasta salad can be served warm or refrigerated for later. 

One note though, as pasta salad cools the pasta absorbs the dressing. So if you make it ahead more than 24 hours you will most likely have less dressing than if you dressed it just before serving.


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