Budget-Friendly Summer Grilled Chicken & Pasta Salad

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Here comes the 4th of July

Pasta salad, a throw back from the 80’s is making its way back to the kitchen. Simple and the fact that you can make one batch and it will last for days makes it affordable and refreshing for summer meals. A simple gluten free pasta makes this even healthier and buying boneless chicken breasts on sale makes this a budget friendly dish.


For the grilled chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Seasoning (see below, I use a blend from Spice and Tea Exchange)

Arugula Pesto:

  • 1 bunch fresh arugula, tough stems removed, washed and spun dry, plus baby arugula, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound penne pasta (I use gluten free)
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 1/4 cups crumbled feta
  • Black olives, pitted and sliced- optional
  • Red onion- sliced as garnish


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

For the grilled chicken:


Preheat a grill. Drizzle the chicken with oil and season with salt, pepper, and sprinkle seasoning mixture on both sides. Place on the grill and cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes on the first side, and 5 minutes on the second side. Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 15 minutes to redistribute juices then cut into slices.

For the Pesto:

In a food processor, combine the arugula, parsley, walnuts, garlic, cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and process on high speed until the greens are finely chopped. With the machine running, add the extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Drain the pasta and shock in an ice bath and place in a bowl. Toss with some olive oil so it doesn't stick.

Toss the pasta with the arugula pesto, to taste. Let cool and refrigerate until well chilled. Toss the cubed chicken, red and yellow tomatoes, feta, and olives to the pasta, and toss to combine. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve, garnished with baby arugula.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Culinary Director

As the Culinary Director for ABC 7, I whip up cooking segments on ABC 7 News at Noon, along with recipes, cooking tips, reviews and great food finds on MySuncoast Dining at www.mysuncoast.com