Not all pasta salads use mayo! This light and herby chicken pasta salad recipe is simply dressed with a tangy lemon-Dijon vinaigrette, and tossed with cannellini beans, fresh arugula, a short pasta of your choice, and baked bite-size pieces of chicken. It’s ready in 30 minutes, and easy to prepare in advance. Enjoy this chicken pasta salad cold or at room temperature.
Put the ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously until the dressing is smooth and emulsified. Season with more salt, pepper, vinegar or lemon juice, to suit your taste.
Make the salad
Preheat the oven to 425 (220 C) degrees.
Bake the chicken: Put the chicken breasts on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle them generously on both sides with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Drizzle with some olive oil, turning them over to coat. Bake the chicken about 20 minutes, turning them over halfway, until the chicken is cooked through. When it's cool enough to handle, slice the chicken into bite-size pieces. Reserve the pan juices.
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl or platter.
Add the beans, greens and half the dressing to the pasta and toss together. Arrange the sliced chicken on top of the salad, and pour over the reserved pan juice.
To serve, drizzle with additional dressing to taste and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Enjoy the salad warm or at room temperature.
If you don't have herbs de Provence, try using a mixture of with 1/4 teaspoon each dried thyme, rosemary, and oregano.
The salad dressing and baked chicken can be made up to 3 days ahead. For the best flavor, toss the pasta with the dressing just before serving.
Chicken pasta salad tastes best when it's served slightly warm or at room temperature, rather than straight out of the fridge.
Drizzle a little more dressing over the pasta salad just before serving — the pasta will absorb the dressing as it sits.
Shell pasta has sturdy texture and perfect shape for capturing the dressing, but any short-cut pasta shape will work, including gluten-free pasta.