This is more of a guideline than a recipe, since I threw this together on the spur of the moment. It came about when my spouse bought cilantro instead of flat-leaf parsley by mistake (why oh why is the cilantro always right next to the parsley? I've done this myself!). I had made a very large chicken the day before, so I had lots of left-over chicken to use up, too.
We love cilantro, but many people don't. If you're in the latter group, omit cilantro and use parsley, if you want, for color and added flavor. I read recently that whether or not you like the taste of cilantro depends on genetics. For some people, cilantro has a soapy taste, while those of us who love it find it citrusy and fresh-tasting.
We prefer Barilla Plus pasta, as it has a lower glycemic index and added protein from bean flours.
This salad would also be good with diced Monetery jack cheese added--I didn't have any on hand when I made this.
Chicken and pasta salad, Southwestern style
8 oz. rotini pasta
1 1/2 to 2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
1 cup or more cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
diced fresh tomato to taste
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, or to taste (we like lots)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, or to taste
red pepper flakes (opt.)
juice of one large, juicy lime
1/2 cup or more olive oil, or to taste
minced garlic to taste (I used about a teaspoon)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin, or to taste (I like more)
1/4 tsp. crushed dried Mexican oregano
salt to taste
Cook the rotini according to package directions. Rinse under cold running water and drain well. Toss with the chicken, beans, bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, onion, and red pepper flakes, if you're using them.
Combine lime juice with olive oil to taste. I probably started with less than half a cup of oil and just added until the balance seemed right. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt. Whisk until thoroughly emulsified. Toss with the pasta, but don't add all the dressing at once--you may not need it all. If you don't, save the remainder, as pasta can really soak up dressing and you might need to add some before serving.