Thai Pasta Salad

During the hot summer months, we're always on the lookout for healthy and easy-to-make pasta salad dishes. Over the past week it's been so hot that even the mere thought of turning on the oven to cook something makes me break out into a sweat.

That's why today's recipe, Thai Pasta Salad, is simply perfect for this time of year. It's low in fat, yet it also contains a healthy dose of protein, carbs and veggies. You'll have a balanced and complete meal with just this dish alone. After a hot afternoon spent mowing the lawn or playing tennis--or perhaps riding an inadequately air-conditioned bus from your job in New York City?--this dish really satisfies.

Best of all, it involves just a few scant minutes of stove time. And as you'll see below, the mix of spices is a lot more creative and exotic than some boring macaroni salad.

You can also make this recipe vegetarian style, either by leaving the chicken out, or (preferably) replacing it with 12-16 ounces of very firm tofu.

Thai Pasta Salad

1 lb chicken breasts, cut into smallish pieces
1 lb box of dried linguine
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
30-40 cilantro leaves (Unfortunately, for those of you who hate cilantro, you're SOL on this recipe--it's too critical an ingredient to leave out)


1) Season the chicken pieces with cayenne and/or black pepper. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan and then sear the chicken on high heat for just a few short minutes (certainly cook it through, but try not to overcook the chicken). Set aside.

2) Cook linguine according to directions. While water is boiling/pasta is cooking, make the dressing mixture (see below). Combine pasta with tomato, red pepper, cilantro and dressing mixture. Add the chicken and stir well. Can be served warm or cool.

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce*
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper

3) Heat oil in a very small saucepan. Add chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. When the garlic and pepper flakes begin sizzling in the oil, remove from heat and add the remaining dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Serves 4-6

* Hoisin sauce can be found in the Asian food aisle of any major grocery store.
Related Posts:
Chickpeas, Pasta and Tomato Salad
Penne Pasta Salad
How to Tell if a Recipe is Worth Cooking With Five Easy Questions
Mock Wild Rice: An Insanely Easy To Make Side Dish

Photographs courtesy of Laura L. Perrin.


Anonymous said...

Yum to all the ingredients here!

I wonder if vermicelli would work just as well, in place of the linguini?? Love that Angel Hair pasta!!

Daniel said...

I'd say a broad-shaped pasta is best for this dish since it holds the sauce better. Best to use linguine or even fettuccine in my opinion.

Thanks for your comment!


Anonymous said...

This is my kind of recipe--fun to make and easy. Good one. GP

Daniel said...

Thank you Hamster! You've anticipated my next post, which will be some other blogs/cooking sites that I regularly read. Thanks for your comment.


Ericka said...

Hi Daniel:
I joined your blog recently (2 weeks ago) and I am really enjoying it. I got married five months ago and I love to experiment with different dishes.

I decided to start by putting this recipe into practice and the taste is great. The only thing I noticed is that my chicken looked whiter than that in your picture. It seems like yours absorbed more of the sauce and mine did not. Any thoughts on why that happened?

Thanks! And please keep blogging!

Daniel said...

Hi Ericka,
Thanks so much for your comment and compliments!

As to your question, it might be a combination of factors. I sear the chicken in my recipe until the chicken browns somewhat. That might be the key reason. But also those photographs were taken in evening sunlight, thus the lighting may have made the chicken look a little darker/browner than it really was.

But if you liked how your version came out, it doesn't really matter what the color is--as long as your chicken is cooked through!

Thanks for reading.


Owlhaven said...

I wildly adapted this recipe and featured it on my blog today. Thanks for the inspiration!

Daniel said...

That's what I'm all about Mary. I love it when readers take my recipes and adapt them to their own needs, wants and whims. Glad to be of help!


Daniel said...

Great, great suggestion. Thanks Dawn.