Penne Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Salad

We are still in the
midst of a heat wave here in BC.  For Monday's "cool" supper I had to take a different tack.  I cooked all the ingredients in the morning before it warmed up too much, got them combined and stuck the final concoction - a pasta salad - in the fridge so by supper time it would be well chilled. I ran the fan above the stove on high while cooking to suck as much of the heat outside as possible.

This penne salad was inspired by what I had in my fridge. I had leftover cooked Tequila Lime Chicken Kebobs, half a package of asparagus, half a crown of broccoli, a few green onions and a smallish beet.  Then I went to the cupboard to see what pasta needed using up and the answer was penne. I always have good quality flavored olive oil in my cupboard.  However, if you love pasta salad with a more flavorful dressing, just use one you love (homemade or bottled). 

If you've been checking out my recent recipes, I hope by now it's obvious that I am pushing myself to not be as rigid in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes and unusual ingredients, but honestly need to let go more often and just be inspired by what I have on hand, to use up those small amounts of fresh ingredients before they go bad. And THAT saves money.

I do want to note after making this once it's a pretty mild dish taste wise, so a sharp cheese (say Feta or ???), Kalamata olives, a stronger flavored dressing, or a meat like ham or sausage that would stand out. Whether you try making this pasta salad, or create your own unique version, a cold pasta salad for supper is the perfect answer to the need to eat on a scorching hot day. 

= = = = 

Penne Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Salad

200 G            Penne Pasta (around 2-1/2 cups)
4 C                Fresh veggies cut in bite size pieces
2 C                Leftover cooked meat (I used up some grilled chicken kebobs)
4                    Green onions diced
1/2 - 3/4 C     Marinated Artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves     Garlic, pressed or finely minced
2-3 T             Good quality Basil Olive Oil (or your fav) See note #2
Salt and pepper
Optional - fresh herbs, shaved or shredded parmesan (not the fake dusty stuff), crumbled feta, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, etc. You could also use a favorite pasta salad dressing instead of the olive oil. 

Note #1  - whatever you have in your fridge that needs using up.  For this I used small beet, a medium yellow zucchini, half a bunch asparagus, and half a crown of Broccoli.

Note #2 - I love using an herbed olive oil, but if you're adding fresh herbs I would use a regular good quality olive oil. 

Instructions - 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place a pot of lightly salted water on the stove over high heat to bring it to a boil.

Line a cooking sheet with foil and coat with an olive oil spray.  Spread the veggies in individual rows on the sheet. I like keep them separately in case one of them needs more or less cooking than the other.  Spray the veggies with the same oil spray.  Roast for 20 minutes or until done to your preference. Set on counter to cool completely.  

Cook the Penne in the boiling water according to package directions, adjusting for your taste. I prefer it a little less al dente so always give it a few more minutes. When finished, drain well and run cold water over the pasta until it is completely cool. Let drain for a few more minutes to get most of the water off.

Combine the meat and green onions in a large salad bowl. Add the roasted veggies and the cooled, drain pasta and combine carefully.  Sprinkle to taste with salt and pepper (Optional ingredients would go in at this time).  Drizzle with olive oil  and very gently combine. If you want to add parmesan you have 2 options - you can sprinkle on top or you can in just before you combine the ingredients.

Chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Before serving, be sure and taste so you can adjust the seasonings.