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!
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!