Butternut Squash, Chicken and Tortellini Salad is hearty and sweet and an easy option to make ahead for lunches on the go. The bacon and pine nuts add a smokey flavor that balances the sweetness of the squash and maple vinaigrette.
I know, pasta isn't supposed to be "healthy", right? I'm here to tell you, unless you have a dairy or gluten intolerance, you're good to go. The reason why pasta has gotten such a bad wrap, beyond our societies growing intolerance to gluten, is that pasta dishes are usually laden with calorie dense additives like tons of cream or cheese.
Using tons of peppery arugula to add volume to a reasonable portion of tortellini is a great trick to get your pasta fix without all the extra calories.
QUICK TIPS BEFORE YOU SHOP
- This is one of those recipes I like to thaw out my frozen roasted lemon thyme chicken for. If you're making the chicken from raw breasts or thighs, 1 pound of raw meat will generate about 2 cups of cooked meat.
- For those that can't do dairy, consider getting sausage tortellini or just using gluten free rotini or elbows.
- Center cut bacon will yield much less grease for coating the ingredients. If you have regular cut bacon, or thick cut rather than center cut, you're going to want to pour out about half or more of the drippings before adding the chicken and tortellini.
Other Salad Recipes
- Spring Strawberry Salad - fresh and sweet with a balsamic dressing
- Pear Cranberry Chicken Salad - full of fall flavors!
- Thai Peanut Chicken Salad - crunchy and great for meal prep
- Cucumber Dill Potato Salad - Greek flavors and easy to make!
Butternut Squash, Chicken and Tortellini Salad
- 5 slices center cut bacon
- 2 cups butternut squash (peeled and cut into ½" cubes)
- ¼ cup thinly sliced shallot
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (divided)
- 1 9-oz. pkg. refrigerated gluten free cheese tortellini, cooked according to pkg. directions
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 3 cups baby arugula
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- HEAT A LARGE FRYING PAN or cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add bacon to the frying pan and cook around 2 minutes per side, until crispy. Place bacon on a plate to cool.
- ADD SQUASH TO PAN with the drippings and sauté 3 minutes before adding shallots, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Continue to cook until squash is soft, around 5 more minutes.
- MEANWHILE, combine garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash with the side of a knife to form a paste. Place in a small bowl. Add oil, vinegar, syrup, and remaining salt and pepper; stir with a whisk.
- AFTER THE SQUASH IS COOKED, reduce heat to low, add tortellini and chicken. Turn off heat once chicken and tortellini is warmed through. Add 2 Tablespoons dressing mixture to pan and toss to coat.
- IN A LARGE SALAD BOWL, combine arugula, tortellini and squash mixture and remaining dressing. Toss again to coat with remaining dressing.
- CRUMBLE bacon and sprinkle pine nuts on top of salad and serve. Can be served warm or cold.
MAKE AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS:
- Instead of tossing dressing in pan or with salad, divide dressing evenly among plastic condiment cups. Add ¾ cup arugula to each container and top with tortellini mixture, 1 slice bacon crumbled, and 2 teaspoons toasted pine nuts.
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