Everyone always adores this pasta salad, which is so easy to make & a great variation on the "traditional" pasta salads. Make sure to steam the veggies for the added oomph in taste and texture! Also, you can change it up however you wish, asparagus in place of broccoli, roasted red peppers instead of tomatoes, etc.
1Marinate the chicken breasts after trimming of any fat. I put in a plastic bag w/ the Italian dressing either overnight or for several hours. Grill or broil and then let cool & cut into large, bite-sized pieces. When this is done....
2Cook pasta & drain. Toss w/ some Italian dressing & stir to keep from sticking & season. I like to throw in some basil or parsley, along w/ salt & some of the Italian dressing as I boil the pasta water for added oomph.
3Saute mushrooms in some of the Italian dressing & sprinkle w/ a little garlic or whatever you might want. Key is to season each ingredient before you add to the pasta salad.
4Steam the broccoli and carrots in whatever method you prefer. I always do a blanche & throw them in boiling water for a few minutes & then into a bowl of ice water for 1 min. Drain & let cool off. You can cut the carrots in half, if you prefer, which is what I do.
5Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and the cheese into bite sized chunks. (I always add the tomatoes & cheese after I have added all other ingredients & refrigerated for awhile. If you want to make salad overnight, you can, but add the tomatoes and cheese next day).
6Now, begin to add everything in a large bowl, one ingredient at at time & stir. Make sure the black olives are thoroughly drained! It is imperative that all ingredients are cooled off before you begin mixing. After it's mixed, put in fridge and stir about every 1.5 hours or so & add more dressing. Top w/ the parmesean & spices. I like to add parm on top before I serve for a prettier presentation. Don't OVERSALT this recipe. With the Italian dressing & seasoning the ingredients as you cook them, you really don't need to add any more salt when you mix up the pasta salad. Fresh ground pepper on top always is good.