Pasta Salad – Thai Style w/ Coconut Milk Poached Chicken

I was innocently standing in the checkout line at Home Goods ………..
………. when I spotted a bag of fun-shaped gemelli pasta. That’s all it took …………. it made me hungry for pasta salad and I quickly snatched up a bag of the pretty twisted, twirly noodles. Upon arriving home and trying to decide what to make for dinner, I noticed the leftovers from my Thai Salad w/ Bok Coy, Avocado & Honey-Ginger Dressing. My mind started whirling and next thing I knew this Asian-inspired pasta salad was evolving.

Although we do occasionally splurge here at The Café (with something like this or this), I try to keep our diet fairly low-carb with lots of fresh veggies and lean protein and I’m continually looking for ways to add fresh, vibrant flavor to our daily fare.That was precisely my goal with this pasta salad; I shredded the leftover coconut chicken (I had made a double batch) adding it to the tender pasta along with garlic, bok choy, tiny sweet peas, red and yellow peppers, red onion and a ton of fresh herbs.

We loved it and I think you will too! It’s perfect for brown bag lunches, picnics, pot lucks and makes a delightful light lunch. It would be awesome for a graduation brunch. Throw in some warm, crusty bread and you’ve got a fabulous summer dinner, not too heavy but bursting with flavor. Serve it slightly warmed or at room temperature. A scattering of toasted sesame seeds is a delicious crowning touch.

P.S. Oh, and if you see me standing in the checkout line, you might want to hand me a pair of blinders – you never know what kind of crazy ideas I’ll be coming up with next!


Pasta Salad – Thai Style w/ Coconut Milk-Poached Chicken

1 pound gemelli pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ cup finely chopped red onion
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium yellow bell pepper
1 cup tiny fresh or frozen peas
3 bunches baby bok choy, sliced in thin ribbons, crosswise
1 medium jalapeno, finely diced
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
2-3 cups shredded Coconut Milk Poached Chicken
⅔ cup Honey-Ginger Dressing
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
½ cup finely chopped fresh basil
toasted sesame seeds*, for garnish

1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water** until al dente about 8-10 minutes. Place a large colander in sink.  Before draining the pasta, add the peas and the sliced bok choy. Immeditately drain the pasta and toss with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil or olive oil. Allow to cool while preparing the rest of the salad.

2.Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add red onion and sauté for 2 minutes or until starting to soften. Add garlic and peppers, sauce 2-3 minutes longer till peppers are crisp-tender.

3. Combine pasta, onion/pepper mixture, jalapeno, shredded chicken and dressing; stir gently to combine. Stir in chopped fresh herbs just before serving and top pasta with a sprinkle of the toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs, if desired.

* ~Toasting sesame seeds intensifies flavor and adds a lovely golden color. To toast them, simple heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add sesame seeds. Stir and gently shake the pan (to spread out the seeds) frequently until light golden colored. Remove from heat and continue to stir for another 30 seconds. Don’t walk away from the seeds. It doesn’t take long at all but they can go from beautiful to burned in a heartbeat!

** ~ For more flavorful pasta, always salt your water, add enough salt to make it taste salty.

Servings 6-8


18 thoughts on “Pasta Salad – Thai Style w/ Coconut Milk Poached Chicken”

  • I love coconut milk in all sorts of dishes, especially with the fragrance of thai herbs and spices. Very creative of you to combine it with a typically western pasta salad, that’s yum!

  • What a lovely pasta dish. It has color and flavor and would be devoured by my family. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • What a wonderful incorporation of Thai flavors into pasta salad. I admit I steer very clear of anything with “-salad” as a suffix (potato salad, egg salad, pasta salad) because they’re usually drowned in mayonnaise.

    But this is a revelation – just a wonderful idea.

  • That is so funny that the gemelli pasta was talking to you at the market, I bought 4 bags of it at Costco which is ridiculous as there are only two of us in the house now! I will take your inspiration and create a tasty pasta salad for a party or picnic;-) Beautiful pictures;-)

  • Chris this looks just like my kind of salad. I’ll stash it away for the warmer weather. I get so jealous of you all on the other side when you’re cooking winter warmers and now I’m jealous of the fresh summer food!

  • This is just presented so beautifully!!!! And I just had to go back and look at the coconut poached chicken, I may need to try that, it just looks yummy…think I will print it. We don’t have a Housewares Store around here, but there is one a little over an hour away n Richmond, and now am going to go!!!

  • hi chris, a delighting salad and looking so vibrant! you always come up with good dressing, i’m going to chk out that honey ginger dressing now.

  • What a beautiful-delicious looking salad – I am loving the thai route you are on – that is an ethnic cooking I have been wanting to try more of. Now let me try to picture you standing innocently in any line:-) love you and miss you, geenie

  • Ohh this looks good and what a great way to use leftovers. For some odd reason I have had pasta on the brain lately and I haven’t made anythign yet, but I’m thinking I must make some and soon. I think it’s wonderful to big batch cook and use the leftovers for other goodies and especially for packing in lunches. Your pasta salad looks absolutly delish!!

  • My check-out lines never have anything except copies of The Enquirer or candy bars at them. I think I like yours better!

    Now that i have to come up with lunches for Hubby while he’s at work (man, it’s good to say that), this will need to go on the list. He’d love it.

  • If I ever see you in line at Home Goods I will gently take you by the arm and pull you out of the line. Then we can shut the place down!!! This is, a perfect summer meal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *