Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad with Teriyaki Vinaigrette

I'm not sure what it's like where you are but around here in Southwestern Ontario we've been breaking heat records for the past week.  What's odd is that just a mere 11 days ago we were all in a tither about snow squalls and white outs.  Skip ahead 11 days and it's 24C and we're walking around in tank tops and flip flops.  Sadly, with Global Warming you never know what kind of weather you're gonna get.

Unfortunately, this changing weather also means that my head will predict weather pressure change pretty accurately by giving me crippling migraines.  Add to the fact that I picked up some kind of virus that has me hacking and coughing profusely for the past 10 days and you may understand why I've been MIA on my blog.  Phlegm and blogging don't mix, people.  Fact.

You will be pleased to hear that I have three (yes, THREE!) book reviews on the go at the moment.  I've been a busy, busy girl.   Even without my dear Kindle (I still hold out hope for her safe return) I've been knee deep in wonderful Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) from the fabulous people at NetGalley and can't wait to share my reviews of these upcoming books with all of you!  I have a couple of modern fiction and one historical fiction review to complete over the next few days.  Check back tomorrow for my review of The Good Father by Diane Chamberlaine! 

Since I've been sick lately it also means that I have no desire to cook, much less eat which is why you've had to wait so long for a new recipe.  But today's the day!!  With beautifully warm weather teasing us lately and my health on the upward swing I've started to think of wonderfully cool yet filling lunches that I can bring to work.  I love me a good, hearty pasta salad.  If it's a little sweet and possibly with my favourite mandarin oranges thrown in for good measure I'm in heaven.  This is where this salad comes in. 
I happened upon it while I was perusing Pinterest and noticed that one of my favourite blogs, Mel's Kitchen Cafe, had a delicious looking salad that I just had to try.  Oh yes, Mel hit another one out of the ballpark!!  Mandarin oranges, chicken, teriyaki -- oh MY!  I did make a couple of wee changes (less oil and sugar) but that's just due to personal tastes.  I also omitted the honey roasted peanuts seeing as we don't have them in our house since it would mean a frantic rush to the hospital if one of my kids ingested the nasty little legume.

If you're in the mood for a sweet, yet hearty salad that's perfect for a quick lunch or as a side dish for a great BBQ'd supper this is it!  Here's hoping that this wonderfully warm weather continues.  Sadly, I think Mother Nature is just toying with us and March is going to out with a BANG!

Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad with Teriyaki Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette
1/2 grapeseed or canola oil
2/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
5 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Salad
1/4 cup sesame seeds
16oz farfalle pasta (bow tie) -- cooked al dente and drained
3/4 cup Craisins
2 (11oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (8oz) can water chestnuts -- drained and sliced (I only used 1/2 can)
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts (optional -- I omitted these)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked chicken -- tossed with 2-3 tbsp teriyaki sauce

In a medium bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients.  With a whisk, blend well until combined.  Set aside. 

Pour the sesame seeds into a small skillet over medium heat.  Toast sesame seeds, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown.  Remove from heat and allow them to cool.

In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients, except for the sesame seeds.  Pour dressing over salad ingredients and mix well.  Place pasta salad in the fridge and allow it to marinate in the dressing for at least a few hours.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds just before serving.

Recipe Source: inspired by one of my all-time favourite blogs -  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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