Monday, May 5

Healthier Chicken Teriyaki Pasta Salad

Just recently I was having lunch with a couple girlfriends and one of the girls made this amazing salad! Marinated chicken breasts in a sweet dressing, pasta, cranberries, mandarin oranges, roasted peanuts and fresh baby spinach. This salad is perfect for your next weeknight dinner, picnic in the park, work potluck, or the next time you're asked to bring "a side dish to pass". I loved the sweet and tangy dressing she used and wanted to see if could I lighten it up a bit. The results were phenomenal! Still sweet, tangy and every bit delicious as before. The leftovers we had the next day were fantastic.

Serves 4 as the main dish

Healthier Chicken Teriyaki Pasta Salad
3 chicken breasts cut into bit sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce ( I used the Kikkoman brand with garlic and green onions)
12 oz tri-colored penne pasta
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 teaspoon honey
2 1/2 cups packed fresh spinach
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Mandarin oranges (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken. Saute chicken just until cooked through. Combine cooked chicken and teriyaki sauce in a large bowl and refrigerate. *Note, this step can be done the day before you serve the salad* Cook pasta according to directions on package, drain, rinse and set aside. Meanwhile in a small skillet over medium heat combine the pecan pieces and honey. Stir continually for 5 minutes. Remove pecans to a piece of parchment paper to cool. To assemble salad, add the cooked pasta, spinach and cranberries to the refrigerated chicken. Toss until combined. Garnish with honeyed-pecan pieces.

Extreme self control was necessary not to eat ALL of the honeyed pecans before the salad was finished.

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