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My husband and I love a really good pasta salad, so I tweaked and experimented and created the Best Chicken Pasta Salad, which I named after me:)
With it’s creamy perfectly balanced flavored dressing, crisp tart apples, smoky Gouda cheese, velvety avocado, crunchy almonds; combined with the other scrumptious ingredients, we think you will agree too that this is the Best Chicken Pasta Salad!
This will generously serve 4-6 adults with a loaf of crusty bread.
It’s a great recipe for a picnic, just be sure to keep it cold because of the mayonnaise and the chicken.
Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad
2-3 green apples, cored and cut into small bite-sized pieces; my handsome hubby prefers I peel the skin off, so that’s a personal preference too (the tart balances the other flavors and compliments the smokey cheese)
3-4 cups of cooked chicken, A rotisserie chicken is fabulous here and what I generally use.
3/4 – 1 cup celery, chopped into small pieces
8-12 oz. Gouda cheese, cut into small pieces (the package of sliced is the usually the most cost effective, just dice it up)
2-3 avocados, diced
2 cups seedless red grapes, cut in halves (they look pretty, but can use green grapes if they are sweeter and in season)
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted* and cooled
16 oz / 1 lb. package of Rotini style pasta (corkscrew type to hold all the good dressing in and sturdy enough for the other ingredients – use a GOOD brand or it falls apart when you add in the other ingredients. I prefer Barilla pasta)
16-18 oz. light mayonnaise (2 – 2 ¼ cups), only real mayo here, please don’t use Miracle Whip. You can use regular if you’d prefer over light
1/2 cup light sour cream (you can use regular instead of light)
1 ½ Tbl. poppy seeds
2 Tbl. honey
5 Tbl. lemon juice (bottled or fresh)
3 Tbl. seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 – 1 tsp. roasted garlic seasoning, optional, but balances the sweet nicely – I use McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb
1/2 tsp. Emerill’s original seasoning
First toast the nuts as shown below*
Cook pasta as directed on package.
When the pasta is al dente (not mushy or too soft), rinse and drain to remove the starch so it isn’t sticky and clumpy later after it sits.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Pour the dressing ingredients over the salad ingredients and combine gently.
Gently toss in the pasta and fold till all mixed through.
It is best to serve this salad chilled for at least an hour. It sits well over night too.
*To toast nuts, pour them into a non-stick pan and cook over medium to high heat, stirring constantly until the nuts are a slightly browned.
It only takes a few minutes but it brings out a delicious deep flavor.
My Carrie’s BEST Chicken Pasta Salad would be perfect to take to a neighbor, friend or family member in need. If you’d like to know more, I have this post: What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat 
And even more information at How Can I Help When Someone Is Sick And Show I Care? 
Copyright and recipe by Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2019
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