Make Ahead

Chicken Pasta Salad with Grapes & Queso Fresco

May 30, 2024
2 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 10 to 15
Author Notes

Being put in charge of the pasta salad for any gathering can be a daunting task. What if you make too little? What if it’s too dry? Is pasta salad…boring? Well, your prayers have been answered. This is my ultimate version of a pasta salad. Everything I want in one giant portion (to be shared, of course). We have sweetness (from the grapes), brightness (lemon and herbs), brininess (olives and preserved lemon), crunchiness (broccoli, baby corn, *and* almonds), meatiness, and cheesiness (your choice of queso fresco or feta). It’s all there! This pasta salad feeds a crowd, is infinitely customizable, and just gets better and better the longer it sits.
César Pérez

What You'll Need
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Chicken Pasta Salad with Grapes & Queso Fresco
  • 1 pound girelle or your favorite shape of pasta
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup baby corn, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, halved
  • 1 cup green grapes
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup dill, chopped
  • 1 pound queso fresco or feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 preserved lemon, rinsed and diced
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  1. Cook the pasta and vegetables: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and baby corn and cook for an additional 6 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and the vegetables are tender-crisp. Drain the pasta and vegetables and spread them out on a sheet tray. Drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Cook the chicken and grapes: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle with EVOO. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through (internal temperature of 165°F). Remove the chicken from the skillet and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing or shredding. Add the grapes to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until they start to blister. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup dry white wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Remove the grapes from the pan and set aside.
  3. Make the vinaigrette: Rinse the preserved lemon under cold running water and chop finely. Zest and juice the fresh lemon. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemons, olive oil, grated garlic, Dijon mustard, fresh thyme leaves, red pepper flakes, and honey.
  4. Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the pasta, vegetables, vinaigrette, chicken (cut into bite-sized pieces), herbs, queso fresco, shallots, olives, sliced almonds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Toss gently to coat all ingredients in the vinaigrette. Let rest for at least an hour in the refrigerator before serving.

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  • Nicole Davis
    Nicole Davis
  • Anna Gsanger
    Anna Gsanger

2 Reviews

Anna G. June 3, 2024
I can make a guess, but what type and how many grapes would you include. I don't see it listed in the recipe? Thanks.
Nicole D. June 3, 2024
Apologies for that omission. It's 1 cup of green grapes.