Chicken & Fruit Pasta Salad

Chicken & Fruit Pasta Salad

So moving from Pasadena, California to Salt Lake City, Utah was definitely a culture shock.  I think it would have been for anyone, but it seemed especially hard for me my first year.  Most of the people I met (especially at work) were either LDS, or they had lived in Utah for most of their lives.  I didn’t say everyone, I said most people.  The biggest change-nope never mind scratch that, one of the changes I noticed at work was in the faculty room during lunch.  At the schools I had worked at in California some teachers bought their lunch from the school cafeteria, others brought their lunch, and a handful warmed up a Lean Cuisine or something to that effect.  If someone’s lunch looked good you might ask what it is they brought and they’d have to explain what it was and how he/she made it.  In Salt Lake City, again, at least where I was at, in four years I never saw anyone buy a lunch from the cafeteria.  Nearly all the lunches were made at home and they always looked delicious.  Like you were jealous after sitting down and opening your cheap tupperware container and then eyeing what your neighbor had in their Pampered Chef’s container.  When I finally found the courage to start asking people what it is they were having for lunch most of the time I got a title of a dish.  The teachers around me would nod and say, “Oh I love that” or “Mmmm that’s one of my favorites” and my eyebrows would raise because I had never heard of it nor did I know how to make it.  To everyone else no explanation was necessary.  So I had to wait a few more months before I got brave enough to be the only person in the room that said, “Umm…well I don’t know what that is.  What’s in it?”  The first few times I got the shocked, “Really, how have you never had that?” or “I can’t believe it!”  The first year I would shrug my shoulders and be like, “I guess it’s cause I’m not from here.”  Later, with my closest friends we would try to figure out whether I had never heard of it because I wasn’t Mormon or because I wasn’t from Utah.  Let me tell you, it’s a hard distinction to try to figure out which is which.  When we knew we wouldn’t offend someone they would walk in the lunchroom and get questions like, “You’re not from Utah, so when was the first time you had a Muddy Buddy?”

Regardless of the food’s origins, nearly every new thing I tried I LOVED.  It was probably entertaining for people because I would get super excited over something everyone else had been eating since they were kids.  This recipe is one of those that after I got a hold of it I made it all the time.  And because it makes so much I could bring it to work and share with my grade-level team at lunch.  One of the times I brought it a few people had forgotten their lunch and came down for a bowl.  I was about to tell them what it was, but as soon as they saw it they said, “Oh man, I love this stuff.  It’s one of my favorites,” and I just had to smile.  Laura Jefferson made this for me first.  She was kind enough to bring it over to me after I had Lindsay so I wouldn’t have to cook dinner.  I admit, at first I wasn’t sure about the mayo with the fresh fruit with the cold chicken, but it’s perfect.  It’s light and filling at the same time and perfect for summer.  I’ve made a few subtle adjustments to the recipe she gave me, but I’m so thankful she was willing to share!

Chicken & Fruit

IngredientsChicken & Fruit Pasta Salad2

  • 2 packages bowtie pasta, cooked and drained
  • 4-6 chicken breasts, either cooked and cubed or use rotisserie chicken
  • 1 bottle Lighthouse coleslaw dressing
  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 (20 oz) cans pineapple tidbits
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 2 large cans mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 green apples (optional)
  • 1 bunch of chopped green onions
  • 1 cup craisins
  • 1 cup cashews

Directions

  1. Combine dressing and mayonnaise.  Add to pasta along with all the other ingredients minus the craisins and cashews.
  2. Stir and chill.
  3. Top with cashews and craisins just before serving so they’re not soft.

Notes: You could add celery and/or a can of water chestnuts to this too.  As is, this recipe feeds ten or more.  Bring on the leftovers!

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