Note: Tried this cold one day after making it, and it makes an excellent cold pasta salad, great for carry ins, or a cool meal on a hot summer day.
Spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner. The farmer’s markets as well as road side stands are starting to pop up, and we still have chicken to cook. So what better time to enjoy the nice fresh flavors of produce? This started out in my mind as a pasta salad recipe, then realizing my wife is not fond of cold pasta and that I still had chicken to use up, quickly morphed into a warm pasta dish. Although I am looking forward to the leftovers as a cold pasta salad. I think it will work both ways.
What to expect:
This is a very well balanced dish that hits on all levels. The dressing and zucchini will give you a slight acidity, the onion and smoked chicken breast brings a depth of flavor that balances that acidity well, and the parsley will gives it a nice pop of freshness.
Yield: 4-6 servings as a main course.
What you will need:
Overnight for marinating, and 2 hours or so for prepping and cooking.
2 bone in chicken breast with skin
2 large sweet onions cut into quarters
3 zucchinis sliced length wise
2 yellow squash sliced length wise
24 oz bottle of Italian salad dressing divided
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley finely chopped.
1/2 lb of cherry tomatoes cut in half
1lb of penne pasta
1cup or so freshly grated Parmesan cheese
How to make it happen:
Begin by rinsing and drying the chicken breast, being sure to remove any excess fat and stray pieces of meat.
Place in zip lock freezer bag.
Quarter and peel onion keeping the root in tact. This will hold the onion together on the grill and make life easier.
Slice the zucchini and squash length wise.
Place in bag with chicken and add 16 oz of the Italian salad dressing.
Let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
When ready to cook set up grill for indirect cooking.
Place wood chunk of your choice on the hot coals, oil grate, add chicken and cover.
Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165f and the juices run clear. About 30 minutes.
Now rearrange the coals for direct grilling and add fresh coals. Give it time to come up to a nice hot temperature.
Scrape gate down, and oil it.
Add the bell peppers first, they will take the longest.
Then the onion.
Finally the zucchini.
Grill checking often, until cooked with nice grill marks and some char.
Slice chicken breast into long strips.
Cut the zucchini into large dice.
Remove the root ends from the onion and cut into large dice.
Remove the seed pod from the bell peppers and pull what skin you can off, it should come off easy, and cut into large dice.
Place the zucchini, onion, peppers, and chicken in a large bowl.
Cook and drain pasta according to directions.
Add pasta to the bowl.
Add 8 oz (or to taste) of the remaining salad dressing.
Add 1/4 cup of parsley.
Add cherry tomatoes.
Taste, add salt, salad dressing or parsley as needed.
Serve family style letting guest add cheese as desired.
Enjoy with good friends, good weather, and maybe a little fresh bruschetta.
Remember what you cook isn’t nearly as important as who you cook it with.