Pesto Pasta Salad with [Leftover] Lemon-Garlic Chicken
with arugula / corn / tomatoes
Tonight's pasta salad is a quick dinner for those busy back-to-school nights, but with fresh basil pesto, sweet corn, and tomatoes, it still feels like hanging on to summer. Leftover chicken from earlier in the week gives it extra flavor and makes this a complete meal.
- Pine nuts - 2 Tbsp (sub walnuts or pecans)
- Garlic - 1 clove , peeled
- Cheese, parmesan (opt) - 1 oz , cut into large pieces
- Basil leaves, fresh - 1 1/2 oz
- Lemon juice - 2 tsp
- Oil, olive - 3 Tbsp
- Pasta, any fun shape - 8 oz
- Lemon-Garlic Chicken (leftover from Tuesday) - ~2 cups
- Corn kernels, fresh or frozen - 1 cup
- Tomatoes, cherry or grape - 1 1/2 cups , halved
- Arugula - 3 oz
- Cheese, fresh mozzarella pearls - 4 oz (sub any mozzarella, chopped)
- Lemon juice - 1 Tbsp
Pasta - Boil pasta according to package directions. Rinse briefly under cool water to halt cooking, then drain well. If prepping ahead of time, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Chicken - Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces. (can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Make pesto - (Skip if made ahead on Wednesday.) Toast nuts in a dry skillet or frying pan until fragrant and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Peel garlic cloves. Place nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese (if using), basil leaves, and lemon juice (portion for pesto) in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well chopped. With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil until smooth. (Add some additional olive oil if needed to help everything blend.) Season to taste with some salt and pepper. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Corn - If using fresh corn, slice kernels off the cob. If using frozen corn, defrost.
Pre-cook corn - If using fresh corn, place in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes, or until corn is crisp-tender.
Tomatoes - Prep as directed.
In a large serving or mixing bowl, combine pasta, chicken, corn, tomatoes, arugula, and mozzarella. Gently toss with pesto and lemon juice (portion for pasta salad) until everything is combined. Season to taste with some salt and pepper.
Divide pasta salad among serving bowls and enjoy!