Sesame Pasta Chicken Salad

I know many of you so called "chefs" and fancy foodies feel negatively about the word "pasta salad" (we should rethink the word "foodie" too).

You think it's beneath you.

It's not a culinary masterpiece or haute cuisine. It's not worthy of a blog post or dinner party.

You think of mushy macaroni swimming in overly sweet dressing from the deli department next to the pressed turkey breast and cole slaw.

Or a picnic salad filled with tortellini and bottled Italian dressing w/ canned sliced olives. Yum, now that's appealing.

I would hate it too.

However, pasta salad can be good.

It can also be great.

I love cold pasta, without any apologies. And truth be told, I could sit in front of a big bowl of elbow macaroni w/ mayonnaise and tuna and call it a day.

In the summer, I always pair cold pasta with vegetables, pestos and delicious homemade dressings.
It's our favorite summer dinner.

You have to rethink this pasta salad hatred.

This recipe may change your mind.

I used leftover roast chicken, but it might even be worth buying a rotisserie chicken just to make this, it's that good.

The recipe makes a lot, perfect for a summer party, however, feel free to cut the recipe in half for a normal weeknight dinner.

Sesame Pasta Chicken Salad:


1/3 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of soy sauce
2 tbsp Asian sesame oil
hot pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp dark brown sugar

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry nonstick skillet, until fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes. Be careful, they burn easily.

Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar, and shake up. Add in the sesame seeds once they have cooled. Set dressing aside.


1-2 cups of leftover cooked chicken, shredded (white or dark meat)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, peeled with a vegetable peeler
big handful of scallions, chopped
16 oz. (1 box) of fusilli or rotini pasta
handful of fresh cilantro for garnish

Cook the pasta as per directions and rinse under cold water after finished cooking.

Add pasta, cooked chicken and vegetables to a big bowl.

Shake up the jar of dressing and pour over the salad.

Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Serve at room temperature.


No more hating on pasta salads!

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Anonymous said…
Soy Vay!
Christine said…
Love pasta salads and what a delicious recipe! Will be making this very soon, just have to get sesame seeds. Mine "turned" and unfortunately had to be tossed.
Amanda said…
Agreed on all counts...good food is just good food. Can we call it a day? Looks delicious, Stacey! This is happening in my kitchen real soon.
No apologies here,I am obsessed with pasta salad! I, too, can totally be happy with a big bowl of it each day. This recipe rocks, I can't wait to try. Here's to cold noodles! :)
This is going on my to do and have list! And I'm with you on the tuna, mac and mayo. It's a wonderful day!
Raksha said…
This sounds wonderful. I can't wait to try it!
Anonymous said…
Mmmm. Well definitely make this again. Thanks!
Anonymous said…
Snow peas! You have to add fresh snow peas! Amazing! They complete the Asian feel of the salad and give a wonderful, satisfying crunch!