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Easy Frugal Cooking | Cilantro Chicken Pasta Salad

Cilantro Chicken Pasta Salad in a glass bowl.

When I put this dish on my menu a few weeks back, a lot of you commented or emailed and asked for the recipe. Since I was making this for the very first time and wasn’t sure the recipe would be a winner, I didn’t take pictures along the way. So, the only picture I have is the one above.

We thought the pasta salad was good, though, and since so many of you wanted to try it, I’m going to share it today.

I got the recipe from my newspaper (back before I cancelled the subscription!), and they’d adapted it from a Stephen Pyle cookbook. As you can see from all the parenthetical notes, I adapted it further. 😉

Cilantro Chicken Pasta Salad

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped thyme (I used 1 teaspoon dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced (I used onion)
1 tablespoon dry white wine
2 tablespoons white whine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil plus 3 tablespoons (divided use)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

9 ounces dried pasta, such as penne
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch strips (I chopped mine)
1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
5 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, cored, and diced (I skipped these and added avocado instead)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
8 ounces cooked chicken breast, preferably smoked, diced (I grilled mine)
1 cup oven dried tomatoes (can sub. sun-dried tomatoes, softened in hot water)
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
cubed cheese, optional

Combine cilantro, thyme, 1 tablespoon of basil, minced garlic, and shallots in a bowl. Whisk in the wine, both vinegars, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, and place in large serving bowl. Toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and set aside to cool.

When the pasta is cool, add the black beans, vegetables, smoked chicken, and basil. Toss with the vinaigrette and season to taste.

Cover the salad and refrigerate to chill. The original recipe specified a chilling time of 20 minutes, with the instruction to add lemon juice to liven up the flavor if that salad had to sit longer than that. However, I thought the salad tasted better after it had chilled overnight, so next time I make this, I’ll combine everything early in the day, or I will at least make the dressing early in the day so that the flavors have time to meld.


If you need more help with avoiding cilantro waste, check out my list of ideas for using up cilantro.

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LBC Teacher

Thursday 6th of January 2011

Hey there! I tried this recipe and blogged about it! Thanks for the inspiration! I linked back to you on the post as well. :)

Ah, that’s better.

Tuesday 31st of August 2010

[...] I took a picture of the Cilantro Chicken Salad before, it was dark and I didn’t have a lot of the salad left. So, the picture was not really [...]


Thursday 24th of June 2010

I had a bumper crop of cilantro in the garden this year. I saw you said you don't try to grow it anymore. Did you plant in ground or in a pot? The seeds I use (and it worked VERY WELL) are from the seed savers exchange ( ) and you can order online. Really do have a bumper crop so your cilantro suggestions are very timely!


Thursday 24th of June 2010

funny how the newspaper comes in handy! funny how you valued it!


Thursday 24th of June 2010

great idea. I have all of those ingredients except the black beans! I forgot to add cilantro to the enchiladas I made the other day, lol. I surely don't want them to go to waste!

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