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With summer right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about dishes to make and take to all those gatherings, sports banquets, end of the school year pot lucks, teacher appreciation parties, BBQ’s, and on, and on, and on…
This is a perfect choice for all of the above but I also love it as a nice, light summer meal in itself. Most of the ingredients in this recipe are pantry staples for me so I almost always have everything I need on hand to pull it together. A few are items that I like to buy in bulk at Costco. The pesto is an amazing deal that I can never pass up. I also love the big container of crumbled feta and of course I always keep a great big bag of walnuts on hand.
I used the same method for cooking the chicken for my Mediterranean Chicken Chopped Salad so go check that post out for the step-by-step if you’d like. The detailed instructions are also included on the printable recipe below. Allow the chicken to cool while you put the rest of the salad together.
Recipe note – feel free to substitute store bought rotisserie chicken to make this even quicker and easier to put together. It will still be totally delicious and they’ll never know.
Prepare a box of penne according to the package directions. Rinse it with cold water and allow it to drain very well.
Transfer the cooked and cooled penne to a big serving bowl. Combine 3/4 cup prepared pesto and 1/4 non-fat Greek yogurt in a small bowl. Add the creamy pesto dressing to the penne and give it a good toss to combine it well.
Add the cooked, cooled, and chopped chicken, halved cherry tomatoes, and sliced black olives.
Add 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, reserving 1/4 cup for the garnish.
Toss everything together and garnish with the remaining feta and some toasted walnuts.
This is a delicious addition to my growing list of summer salads. I hope you add it to yours too!
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
For the Chicken:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon garlic pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 lemon juiced
For the Dressing:
- 3/4 cup prepared pesto
- 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
For the Pasta Salad:
- 1 16 ounce package dry penne pasta
- 1 small carton cherry tomatoes rinsed, drained, and halved
- 1 2.25 ounce sliced black olives, drained
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta divided
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Slice your chicken breasts through the middle, length-wise. Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the thin sliced chicken. Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper, and a touch of salt as it cooks. Allow to cook for about 3 or 4 minutes then flip and season other side with remaining seasonings. When chicken is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in center, remove the pan from the heat and squeeze the juice from 1/2 lemon over the chicken. Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board and set aside to cool.
Toast the walnuts in a shallow dish in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Combine the pesto with the Greek yogurt.
Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cold water and drain well. Transfer cooked and cooled pasta to serving dish. Add the pesto mixture and toss to combine. Add chicken, tomatoes, black olives and 1/2 cup crumbled feta (reserve remaining feta) and toss to combine. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and remaining 1/4 cup feta. Serve immediately.