Monday, June 13, 2011

Curry Chicken Pasta Salad

While it’s still unofficially summer, it is officially Wolf Trap season.  For those of you not familiar, Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia is, in my opinion, one of the absolute best outdoor venues for live music.  This is due in part to the fact that you are allowed to bring in your own food and alcohol.  I try to make sure I get to at least one show per summer – going there is what makes it truly feel like summer to me.  Sitting out under the stars, chowing down on too much food, and possibly even making nice with your picnicking neighbors and getting to try their homemade frozen whiskey sours – yum!

I recently went to Wolf Trap to see the Indigo Girls perform.  I know, I know, lesbian rock isn’t everyone’s thing, but let me tell ya, the people watching at their shows is amazing!  And you can usually overhear some pretty funny conversations – not to mention see more women with short spiky haircuts in one place than you could ever imagine.  Ahhh, good times.  But really, if you think you don’t like their music, give them another try and start with these songs….the super political “Shame on You” (because come on, this is the DC area), the make-you-want-to-roll-the-windows-down-and-go-on-a-road-trip “Get Out The Map” and the heart-wrenching “Power of Two” – wow.

Now on to the food.  A picnic generally calls for some sort of pasta salad, but I personally can’t stand the “macaroni salad” you find in pretty much every grocery store – ugh, way too sweet and often too soupy with mayo.  Several years ago my mom came across this recipe and I’ve been making it ever since.  I have no clue where she found it so unfortunately I can’t give credit where credit is due…sorry!

This pasta changes things up a bit.  It combines sweet and savory, adding fruit where you may not expect it and it works amazingly well.  Even if you’re not a fan of curry, try it – you can add as little or as much as you want.  The flavor combination is really delicious.


1 lb tri-color spiral rotini (I used whole wheat shells this time and I think I’m sticking with that)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in bite-sized pieces
1 cup red seedless grapes cut in half
1.5 cups cantaloupe cut in bite-size chunks (this was in the original recipe but I usually omit)
¾ - 1 cup celery thinly sliced   
1 cup mayo (More or less, depending on your preference.  I use Hellman’s Light)
Curry powder - to taste
S&P - to taste


1) Boil pasta according to package directions.  Drain, rinse and set aside.
2) Sauté chicken with a little olive oil, S&P, a couple shakes of curry powder and I use McCormick Montreal Chicken seasoning, of course.
3) While chicken is cooking, slice grapes, celery and cantaloupe and set aside.
4) Also while chicken is cooking, put mayo in a small mixing bowl, add curry powder, stir and taste until you reach your desired flavor.
5) Combine all ingredients in large bowl and stir to coat everything in the mayo.  Chill and serve.