This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad has Cajun chicken, bacon, and an easy homemade dressing (with NO anchovies!)! Makes a great lunch or party side dish.
One of my favorite things about summer barbecues is trying all the food that people bring along.
I recently tried a Caesar Pasta Salad just like this one: Loaded up with spicy Cajun chicken, bacon, and tons of noodles! I couldn’t WAIT to make it at home and eat it all myself.
Sharing is overrated.
Let’s start with our greens.
How do you keep lettuce from turning brown?
I have always heard that you are supposed to tear greens by hand, rather than chop them with a knife, to avoid bruising. Do you have one of those fancy Lettuce Chopping Knives made of plastic designed JUST to assist with this scenario? Guilty as charged.
But it’s SILLY. As long as your knife is sharpened, you’ll have no problems with bruising. The idea that cut lettuce turns brown is largely a myth.
Probably started by Lettuce Knife Lobbyists.
I’ve also made this salad with leftover Rotisserie chicken. If you go that route, you can always stir some Cajun seasoning for that spicy flavor.
No-Nonsense Caesar Dressing
You’ll love my Homemade Caesar Salad dressing.
Instead of anchovies and raw eggs, this version uses staple ingredients such as mayonnaise (there are your eggs!) and Worcestershire sauce (there are your anchovies!).
Add some spicy brown mustard and lemon juice for a tangy zing, season with salt and pepper, and your new favorite dressing is ready to go. If you find the dressing is too spicy or tangy, just add a little more mayonnaise.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
For the salad:
- 1 pound rotini or other small pasta
- 1 pound chicken breast cutlets
- 2 tablespoons Homemade Cajun Seasoning or store-bought
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large head romaine lettuce chopped
- 2 cups croutons
- 8 ounces bacon cooked and crumbled (8 slices)
- Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing or store-bought
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- In a large saucepan or stock pot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add rotini and cook according to package instructions, about 9 to 11 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Meanwhile, arrange chicken on a baking sheet or work surface and sprinkle both sides generously with Cajun seasoning.
- In large skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Arrange chicken in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until the temperature on an internal thermometer reaches 165 degrees, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Slice into strips.
- In a very large bowl, combine cooled rotini, lettuce, croutons, and bacon. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing and toss until uniformly coated. Top with chicken and garnish with Parmesan cheese.