Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

11 Jun
Originally, I was going to post a different recipe today but then I made this for dinner last night and changed my mind because it was too good not to share! Caesar Salad is my husband’s favorite salad and I figured as long as I kept the same flavors there, then the pasta salad version would be just as good, plus I wanted to make it more filling and more satisfying as a dinner. Well, everything came together perfectly and we both loved it. The flavor of everything in this complete meal was just awesome! The bacon really took it over the top for me and the extra squirts of lemon juice made the parsley and tomatoes pop as well as adding a little extra zing which I love. Final Results: I loved it and my husband loved it and we are glad there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge! (So excited for lunch!) 
This meal is pretty similar to a Chicken Caesar Salad, except it’s made with pasta and a lot less lettuce. I also added in tomatoes and parsley for extra nutrients and color. This pasta salad would be great without the chicken (if you want) and perfect for a potluck or BBQ. I took a few shortcuts by buying pre grated parmesan cheese and a roasted whole chicken because I was running out of time last night to get dinner on the table. You can roast or grill the chicken yourself to save yourself some money, but I have to say, I love those roasted chickens! They are so convenient! Also, you can also substitute all the pasta for a head of romaine lettuce and once everything is tossed, eat as is or get some tortillas and turn them into chicken caesar salad wraps! TO DIE FOR!  I made my own caesar dressing (recipe below), but you can use your favorite store bought one-just make sure to add in a little lemon juice because it makes a huge difference. AND, in the photo above, you can see that I toasted some french bread and spread it with garlic basil butter! Never done that before but oh my good gravy! So good. That recipe is below as well. Happy Weekend Friends!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
yield: 6 servings
3/4 lb. pasta, cooked to al dente (I used farfalle)
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups cubed chicken-roasted or grilled
1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup good quality caesar dressing + a few squirts lemon juice (or recipe below)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
lemon wedges for an extra zing
Toss all ingredients together in large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lemon wedges. 
Recipe TIPS:
-If you are going to make this meal in advance, toss everything together leaving the lettuce out until you are ready to serve. The lettuce will wilt if you toss it with dressing!
Caesar Salad Dressing
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 lemon juiced
Whisk all ingredients together and toss with pasta salad or caesar salad. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Garlic Basil Butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
Mix all ingredients together and let sit 10-20 minutes before using. Spread on warm, freshly toasted french bread.

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