Now that everyone’s acquainted, allow me to introduce you to the greatest matrimony since peanut butter and jelly: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad.
Crisp Romaine lettuce, store-bought rotisserie chicken (time-saver of the century!), crunchy croutons, Parmesan cheese shavings and rotini noodles, all tossed in a creamy homemade Caesar salad dressing.
The anchovy paste is totally optional, although it does give this Caesar its characteristic flavor oomph. But the real secret to the best DIY Caesar salad is the addition of grated Parmesan cheese whisked right into the dressing.
I love dicing up a store-bought rotisserie chicken to make this a complete meal, but you could easily leave out the poultry to make this the ultimate side salad for potlucks, casual weeknight spreads or weekend bashes.
Roasted salmon, grilled shrimp or my personal fave, skirt steak, would also be welcome additions.
To save a few more minutes (from this 20-minute dish!), whip up the dressing and salad separately then stash them in the fridge. When ready to serve, toss ’em together and grab the forks.
For the dressing:
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
For the pasta salad:
8 oz. uncooked pasta, such as rotini or penne
2 hearts of Romaine
Shredded rotisserie chicken or chopped chicken breasts
Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a medium bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire, mayonnaise, minced garlic and anchovy paste until well combined. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon pepper then set the dressing aside while you make the salad.
Make the pasta salad:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large serving bowl.
Cut the Romaine hearts into 1-inch pieces then add them and your protein of choice to the bowl with the pasta.
Add the prepared dressing and toss to combine. Add the croutons (optional) and garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.