Chicken Berry Pasta Salad is a sweet and savory summer dish drizzled with fresh Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette. And with its red, white, & blue color scheme, it’s the perfect recipe for 4th of July picnics, potlucks, and BBQs!
Pasta salad is one of those things that I could happily eat pretty much every day through the warm weather months. I love it plain and simple. I love it loaded with veggies. I love it served from a picnic basket or from a long, checkered tablecloth at a cookout. I love it as a side dish or as a full meal or as a ready-made lunch. Have I mentioned how much I love pasta salad? 😉
That being said, I never tire of coming up with new pasta salad concoctions. And this Chicken Berry Pasta Salad? Well, it’s quickly rocketed up to the top of my favorites list.
Chicken Berry Pasta Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette is not only gorgeously (and patriotically!) colorful, but it’s bursting with flavor. It boasts a little sweet, from fresh, juicy strawberries and blueberries, with even more strawberries puréed into a tangy, balsamic-based dressing. And it boasts a little savory, from chicken breasts that have been simply seasoned with salt and pepper before being pan sautéed in a bit of butter and olive oil.
Though you wouldn’t know it from these photos, there’s yet another layer of creamy saltiness to this salad, thanks to feta cheese crumbles. When I initially developed this recipe for the blog, I took photos of that first batch and went on my merry way. But this Chicken Berry Pasta Salad was so yummy that it haunted my dreams, and I soon found myself making it once again. But this time, I decided to toss in a tub of feta cheese that was hanging out in the fridge, and boy was I glad I did! It added an additional flavor and texture that happened to perfectly complement the chicken and the berries. So while it’s missing from the photos, I wouldn’t dream of excluding it from the recipe. I’m telling you, leave out the feta and you will forever regret it! Unless you don’t like feta, of course…in which case, don’t include it. I’ve never been one to tell you how to live your life. 😉
If you have an Independence Day shin-dig to host or attend, I highly encourage you to dazzle the hungry guests and make a big bowl of this patriotic pasta salad to share! At the very least, whip up a batch for yourself or your family this summer…and the sooner, the better! We’ve had it twice in the same number of weeks around here, and I can’t tell you how happy it made me to remember that there were leftovers when lunchtime rolled around the next day. This recipe truly makes the perfect lunch…light, refreshing, and as simple as scooping into a bowl. In fact, Chicken Berry Pasta Salad screams Happy summer! and Happy birthday, America! and Happy eating, you pasta salad lover, you! all rolled into one…and, in my humble opinion, a recipe can’t get much better than that. 🙂
Chicken Berry Pasta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette Recipe
Chicken Berry Pasta Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 8 ounces farfalle, bowtie pasta (OR your favorite shape of pasta)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large chicken breasts , boneless, skinless
- 1 cup quartered strawberries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or heaping 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cook pasta, according to package directions, in well-salted water. Drain, rinse, and cool.
- Generously season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter and olive oil and swirl pan to coat. Cook chicken breasts until deep golden brown on the underside, about 5 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until the second side is browned and the chicken is cooked through, another 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside on a cutting board to cool.
- Make the dressing by placing garlic and thyme in a small food processor; pulse until finely minced. Add sliced strawberries, balsamic vinegar, water, Dijon, salt, and pepper. Process until very smooth. Adjust seasonings, to taste; set aside.
- Transfer the cooled pasta to a large bowl. Cube the chicken breasts and layer on top. Scatter the quartered strawberries, blueberries, and feta cheese on top. Drizzle with about 2/3 of the dressing and toss until evenly coated (reserve the remaining 1/3 of the vinaigrette to add just before serving).
- Cover salad and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and stir in remaining vinaigrette (to taste).
Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette adapted from Whole Foods
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