This Delicious Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is a huge hit in my house! Everything is made from scratch and I love that most of it can be made ahead too.
Don’t you just love a good salad? I sure do! And the classic Caesar salad is one of my favorites. Recently, we were out to eat at Cheddar’s and on the menu was a Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. I was intrigued so gave it a try. It has now become one of my favorite things to get there. I love it so much I decided to try making it at home and it was so easy. Pasta combined with the lettuce in a salad sounded strange to me at first but it really works.
My version of Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad was an immediate hit with my family the first time I made it at home. I used homemade dressing (instructions included in recipe below) and I think that makes a huge difference! I had never made my own Caesar salad dressing before now because to be honest, I was a little intimidated by the whole adding the egg part. I don’t know why I waited so long because it is SOOOO easy.
I originally found the recipe for the dressing in an old Tupperware cookbook that I’ve had for years (from my days of selling Tupperware decades ago—just aged myself right there!) It calls for dried anchovies but those can be hard to find or when you do find them, you have to buy a whole big bag (like in an Asian grocery store, which is where I’ve found them before). So instead, I used anchovy paste. Did you know such a thing existed? I never did until I made a different recipe that called for it. You can find anchovy paste in the canned meat/seafood section of the grocery store. I usually find it by the canned tuna.
The homemade Caesar dressing needs to be made at least two hours in advance to refrigerate and let the flavors blend. Any extras (if you have any) will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator—that is if it doesn’t disappear before then. My teenage daughter especially likes taking it on salads she brings to school.
Make Ahead Salad Tips
After making the dressing, the salad comes together quickly. I like to shred up a whole head of romaine lettuce and wash in my salad spinner. I keep any extras in the refrigerator in a produce storage container or bag. You can even make the pasta ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the salad for serving. I also like to grill up a bunch of boneless chicken breasts to have on hand in the freezer for recipes just like this (or in other recipes like my Chicken, Rice and Black Bean Tortilla Soup.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is great any time of the year—it’s light yet filling and perfect for lunch or dinner. If you like the flavors of Caesar salad, be sure to check out my Super Simple Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap too!
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Delicious Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Delicious Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is a huge hit in my house! Everything is made from scratch and I love that most of it can be made ahead too.
- 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
- 2 cups cooked bowtie pasta
- 10 cups torn romaine lettuce
- 1/4 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup purchased garlic croutons *See recipe for homemade Parmesan croutons as an option
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning, crushed may substitute ¼ teaspoon oregano and ¼ teaspoon basil
- 4 1/2-inch thick slices French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste can be found near the canned meats
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 teaspooon Worcestershire sauce
In a blender container or food processor bowl, combine egg, chicken broth, anchovy paste, olive oil, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Transfer dressing to a small saucepan.
Over low heat, cook and stir dressing for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Whisk frequently so egg does not scramble. DO NOT BOIL.
Transfer to a bowl then cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours before serving.
Preheat oven to 300 F.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and Italian herb blend if desired. Whisk to blend. In a large bowl, add bread cubes. Drizzle with butter mixture stirring half way through for more even coverage.
Spread bread cubes in a single layer in a shallow baking pan/sheet. Bake at 300F for 10 minutes; stir. Continue baking about 5 minutes more or until bread cubes are browned, dry and crisp. Cool completely before using.
To store, place them in an airtight container. Seal and store for up to 1 week. Makes 15 (2 tablespoon) servings.
TO PREPARE SALAD:
In a large bowl, combine chicken, bowtie pasta, croutons and Parmesan cheese.
Toss to combine.
Add dressing and toss again. Serve immediately.