Picnic Pasta

★★★★★ 1 Review
kristjana avatar
By Kristjana Cook
from Annapolis, MD

This is truly a one-dish meal. Perfect for summer picnics, potlucks and church suppers or anytime you need a meal to make ahead. I invented this recipe a few summers back when deciding on a dish to take to a potluck. I was working hard to shed some new-baby pounds and wanted to bring a dish that I knew would be hardy, healthy and loaded with flavor - to keep me away from the inevitable potluck spread of high-fat dishes! It's my most-requested recipe from friends and the perfect meal to make and take. Enjoy!

serves 8 - 10
prep time 20 Min
cook time 15 Min

Ingredients

  • 1 box
    penne pasta - i use "barilla pasta plus"
  • 1 md
    yellow pepper, cut into strips the size of the penne
  • 1 md
    cucumber, halved lengthwise,peeled, seeded and sliced to the size of the penne
  • 1 box
    grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 md
    red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c
    chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 c
    crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 c
    well-chopped baby spinach
  • 4 to 6 oz
    light caesar dressing (i use about 1/2 a bottle of ken's steakhouse iight ceasar
  • 2
    poached, cooled and shredded chicken breasts (optional)
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How To Make

  • 1
    Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente - firm to the bite. Drain, rinse lightly and cool by spreading out on a sheet pan.
  • 2
    While pasta is cooking, wash and cut the vegetables and cilantro, and place in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • 3
    Add the cooled pasta and mix well. If you are using the chicken, add this as well.
  • 4
    Pour dressing over pasta mixture and stir well to combine. Remember you can always add more, but you can't take "too much" out! Add slowly and mix to make sure you don't over do it.
  • 5
    Refrigerate for 1 to 24 hours. Garnish with a little extra feta and cilantro sprinkled on top, if desired. Looks great in a clear trifle dish or a big white pasta bowl.
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