It’s really a modified chicken macaroni salad. But, instead of the usual celery slices and chopped carrot, this chicken and pasta salad has bell pepper and olives. And that makes all the difference.
It’s how the contrasting flavors and textures makes this salad work like magic — the sweetness of the pineapple, the tanginess of the olives, the crunch from the bell pepper and the walnuts…
And then there’s the dressing. All that cream cheese! Add all that to the neutral-tasting pasta and chicken, and you’ve got a delicious salad that can be your main meal.
About substitutions… Does the pasta need to be fusilli? No, of course not. Any pasta shape with lots of nooks and crannies to catch the dressing will make a good choice.
Is canned pineapple okay to use? Fresh pineapple is best, of course, and that was what was used here. But canned is not a bad substitute although the pale color will not add any striking visual delight.
Whether using fresh or canned pineapple, make sure to drain the fruit well to allow excess juice to drop off. Because, surely, you don’t want your chicken and pasta salad to turn watery.
Full recipe below
Cheesy Chicken Pasta Salad
- ¼ cup cream cheese - (65 grams) softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 cups cooked pasta
- ½ cup chopped cooked chicken meat - (or more, if you like)
- ⅓ cup diced bell pepper
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped walnuts
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped pineapple - drained
- 4 to 6 pitted black olives - halved
- salt - (herb salt, if available)
- ground white pepper
- Make the dressing. With a wire whisk, whip together the softened cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together the pasta, chicken, diced bell pepper, walnuts, chopped pineapple and black olives with herbed salt and ground pepper.
- Add the dressing and toss to blend.
- Taste and add more herbed salt and pepper, if needed.
- Chill well for several hours.
- Stir, taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed, before serving.