A friend of mine recently asked me for a pasta salad recipe and this dish immediately came to mind. Years ago I saw a “recipe” in a cooking magazine that was for a pasta salad and the only two ingredients were a pound of pasta and a bottle of the dressing the ad was selling. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me before, but the idea was brilliant! Since then the recipe has morphed into a number of different versions.
It started with a refrigerated Litehouse Caesar dressing with pasta (which by the way is delicious!). In later versions I added extra Parmesan cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, chicken, sometimes even lettuce. If you want this easy 10 minute cold Caesar Pasta Salad you can see it here! Then one day as I was pregnant and on my way to my second client of the day to cook dinner I stopped at Whole Foods to buy ingredients. Walking past the hot bar I noticed a hot chicken Caesar pasta! Light bulb again! I didn’t get home until almost ten that night, but I had to make that pasta I had enjoyed for dinner. Since then I have made this recipe, both cold and hot, probably 50 times. In fact, here is a photo of the cold version at a birthday party almost two years ago! This version is my homemade version and my absolute favorite. The dressing is easy to make with ingredients you have on hand (no anchovies, no egg yolk) and though you can eat this cold, this dish shines when you’ve baked it in the oven.
Put the dressing ingredients, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves and Worcestershire sauce into a small food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cook pasta a couple minutes short of what it calls for on the box. Drain. Add chicken, 1 cup Parmesan cheese and the dressing.
Toss together and put into a baking dish. Top with the buttery toasted crackers. Bake for 15 minutes or until all melted together.
- 1 pound pasta , shape of your choice (I used extra wide egg noodle)
- 3 cups cooked chicken , cubed
- 1 cup parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 20 buttery crackers , crushed (I used Ritz)
- fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter in pan and cook the crushed crackers until they are all toasted and start to brown.
- Put the dressing ingredients, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves and Worcestershire sauce into a small food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Cook pasta a couple minutes short of what it calls for on the box. Drain.
- Add chicken, 1 cup parmesan cheese and the dressing.
- Toss together and put into a baking dish.
- Top with the buttery toasted crackers.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until all melted together
Still want to make the easier cold version? No problem! 10 Minute Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. This was so popular it was the first dish that we ran out of at the party (and I was serving filet mignon sandwiches at this party!)
Psssst… want to hear a little secret? This recipe is one of 10 in my upcoming FREE e-book called 5-10-30. 5 Cuisines, 10 Full Meals and 30 Total Ingredients that is a bonus for email subscribers only! It will include shopping lists that set you up for two weeks of weeknight dinners with no ingredient waste and tips for cooking and alternate ingredient options. If you haven’t subscribed for updates you may want to now so you can be one of the first to get it when it comes out!