Our two older grandchildren take classes at a local ballet studio, Juline School of Dance, the same one their Aunt attended in her youth. It's a fantastic dance studio. Besides the quality instruction, one of the things I love about the Studio is their end-of-year recital. It's held at a local park that has an amphitheatre. It's very organized, the dancing is wonderful, yet the whole recital retains a relaxed atmosphere. Many of the families picnic at the recital, street vendors sell ice cream, cupcakes, shaved ice, younger siblings get to run around and burn off energy, and we aren't stuck in an auditorium for umpteen hours. It all makes for a very pleasant summer evening.
As we are in the midst of a heat wave here our picnic needed to be light. I saw this recipe online and was intrigued by it. I love oriental chicken salads and this one has some unusual ingredients in it. I was somewhat apprehensive about the dressing as it calls for a package of dry onion soup mix. The online reviews convinced me to try it and we weren't disappointed. It had a nice ginger overtone and the orange juice gave it a nice flavor, too. Our picnic companions all loved it. This salad will be added to my list of "go-to" recipes.
Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad
1 teaspoon finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 ( 1ounce) package dry onion soup mix
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 (8 ounce) package bow tie (farfalle) pasta
1/2 cucumber, scored, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1 (6 ounce) bag fresh spinach
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin orange segments, drained
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
To make the dressing, whisk together the ginger root, rice vinegar, orange juice, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soup mix, sugar, and garlic until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the bowtie pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, and rinse under cold water. Place pasta in a large bowl.
To make the salad, toss the cucumber, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, carrot, spinach, mandarin oranges, chicken and almonds with the pasta. Pour the dressing over the salad mixture, and toss again to coat evenly. Serve immediately.