Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

chicken caesar pasta salad with grilled romaine and stracci pasta

The Spruce / Pete Scherer 

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Take your salad game up a notch by firing up the grill. This dish might take a little longer than your average pasta salad, but the extra effort is definitely worth it. The distinct smoky char of grilled romaine adds an earthy dimension to the brilliant combination of Caesar dressing, chicken, and pasta. It turns the classic salad into a main dish fit for a dinner party but simple enough for a family meal.

Grilled romaine lettuce, freshly grilled skinless chicken thighs, and al dente stracci pasta (the kind of pasta that looks like little handkerchiefs) are tossed in homemade Caesar dressing and topped with toasted brioche croutons and grated cheese. The anchovy paste in the dressing is not optional—the flavor of anchovy is essential to proper Caesar dressing. That said, this pasta salad is secretly all about the cheese. Get real Parmigiano-Reggiano if you can.

Ingredients

  • For the Dressing:
  • 1 large clove garlic (grated or minced)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • For the Salad:
  • 3 ounces brioche bread (torn into bite-size pieces)
  • 8 ounces stracci pasta (cooked al dente, cooled)
  • 8 ounces chicken thighs (boneless, skinless; grilled and chopped into roughly half-inch pieces)
  • 2 romaine hearts (halved, grilled, and roughly chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 300 F.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, anchovy, mustard, and Worcestershire. Whisk to incorporate.

  3. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the yolk mixture to form an emulsion. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Arrange the torn brioche pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 300 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.

  5. Add the pasta, grilled chicken and romaine to the dressing bowl and toss to coat. Plate the dressed salad as desired, then top with brioche croutons and the remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk for food-borne illness.

Tip

Use extremely fresh eggs for the Caesar salad dressing. If you'd rather not use raw egg, use pasteurized eggs. Pregnant women should not consume raw eggs.

Recipe Variations

  • If you've got a little more time and want an even more scrumptious dish, try a marinade recipe for the chicken.
  • If you can’t fire up a grill, you could char the romaine quickly under the broiler or use a grill pan on the stovetop.
  • A rotisserie chicken from the store will also work in a pinch.
  • If you can't find stracci pasta, substitute with bowtie, cavatappi, or cut lasagna sheets.

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