Caesar Pasta Salad is the perfect dish for summer. Tender pasta noodles tossed with traditional Caesar Salad ingredients in a creamy garlic lemon dressing this meal is both flavorful and filling. I love that can be made ahead of time and served on the hottest of days, offering relief from the heat of the oven!
Do You Like Caesar Salad?
If you like Caesar Salad, you are going to love this Caesar Pasta Salad recipe. It combines all of the delicious flavors of a classic Caesar salad with pasta to make a perfect summer meal! You can serve this pasta salad as an all in one meal, or pair it with a plate of fresh fruit or fresh crusty bread for a dinner everyone is going to love.
Caesar salad dressing has to be one of my all time favorites, rich and creamy with a distinct lemon and garlic flavor. I highly suggest making the homemade dressing for this recipe, it’s both quick and delicious.
Caesar salad dressing typically has anchovies in it and they really do add an amazing dimension of flavor to this dressing!
I personally don’t eat much that has a really strong fish flavor but using anchovy paste adds so much umami to this recipe (I don’t use tons so it’s not super fishy) that I never leave it out. You can certainly replace it with blended capers if you don’t want to use it but it’s worth trying at least once. Using a paste instead of chopped anchovy fillets makes a smoother dressing and I prefer it without little chunks so I generally use the paste but if you happen to have filets on hand, definitely use those!
If you’re really in a time crunch you can most certainly sub in your favorite bottled Caesar salad dressing; either way, this Caesar pasta salad is unforgettably good!
Tips for Caesar Pasta Salad
- As with all pasta recipes, be sure to salt your pasta water.
- Any medium pasta shape will work in this recipe.
- You can use grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken to make this recipe quick.
- To make this meal a side dish, leave out the chicken.
- Homemade dressing is best but you can certainly substitute your favorite bottled caesar salad dressing if you prefer.
- Bacon or real bacon bits will both work perfectly in this recipe. Skip the imitation bacon, it will get soggy.
Much like the dressing you can use store bought croutons (I love the focaccia croutons) but if you have some bread (or hamburger buns, rolls or whatever other yummy carb you might have) sitting out, making your own Homemade Herb Croutons is both easy and delish! I whip up a batch and store them for use over the next couple of weeks.
Take It to the Next Level
Caesar Pasta Salad tastes best when using fresh parmesan cheese; you can use a powdered version if that is what you have, but the flavor of fresh parmesan really takes this recipe to the next level of yum! You can find fresh parmesan in the deli section at the grocery store, it grates and stores wonderfully! While real fresh parmesan cheese can be a bit pricey, it lasts forever in the fridge and it just a little bit goes a long way since the flavor is intense. You’ll definitely notice a difference using fresh cheese over powdered!
While we do serve this as a summer main dish, you can certainly make it into the perfect potluck side dish by skipping the chicken. I do prefer to toss this pasta salad with dressing right before serving for maximum freshness, but surprisingly the lettuce holds up really well in this salad and if we have leftovers we enjoy it for lunch for a couple of days!
CHICKEN CAESAR PASTA SALAD
- 3/4 lb penne or other medium pasta
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- seasoning to taste I love cajun seasoning
- 6 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 cup croutons
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- lemon wedges for serving
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons anchovy paste
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- salt & fresh black pepper to taste
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate.
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Run under cold water and drain well.
- Season chicken breasts with olive oil and seasoning to taste. Grill over medium heat 4-5 minutes per side or until juices run clear. (165 degrees). Rest until cooled.
- Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with desired amount of dressing.
- Serve immediately.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
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