Caesar Pasta Salad is the best of Caesar Salad and Pasta Salad together at last, busting with hypnotic texture and bright, tangy, garlicky dressing!
This Caesar Pasta Salad is as addictingly scrumptious as they come, make ahead friendly and will have everyone talking at potlucks, picnics and parties! It’s a hypnotic blend of tender pasta, fresh, crisp Romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons and rich, salty Parmesan all bathed in my WAY-better-than-store-bought, bright, tangy, garlicky, Caesar Dressing. Turn this salad into Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad with grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, or my featured, downright swoon worthy Blackened Chicken that truly elevates this recipe to the best!
Pasta salad recipes aren’t only a hit at gatherings, they make the best sides to practically every meal! Try out these favorites: Italian Tortellini Salad, Greek Pasta Salad, Mexican Pasta Salad, Orzo Pasta Salad, Cowboy Pasta Salad, Pesto Pasta Salad, Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad and Creamy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad.
HOW TO MAKE caesar pasta salad VIDEo
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS PASTA SALAD RECIPE
IT’S A CROWD FAVORITE!
Caesar Salad with its garlicy, umami forward dressing, crunchy croutons, crisp lettuce and shower of nutty Parmesan is one of the most beloved salads of all time – and tender pasta makes it even better! This Caesar Pasta Salad is a zippy, zesty, unapologetically flavorful pairing and will have everyone coming back for more. And bonus, it serves a crowd with minimal effort, and it’s make ahead friendly!
THE SENSATIONAL HOMEMADE CAESAR DRESSING
The homemade Caesar Dressing is a creamy, bright, tangy, garlicky, umami explosion of YUM that’s 1000X better than any store-bought variety. It’s made with a sour cream base and accent of mayo so it’s lighter and fresher than most. And the best part – it takes MINUTES to whisk together without a blender! As a bonus to going homemade, you can customize the dressing as far as acidity, garlic, umami and Parmesan.
THE MOUTHWATERING BLACKENED CHICKEN
You can add any chicken to this recipe, but for the best Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, go with my Blackened chicken! It’s spice rubbed with Cajun zippy, smoky heat then pan seared to create a gloriously charred crust giving way to a buttery interior. The chicken is huge on flavor, so it can stand up to the punchy dressing without competing with it. You’ll also love that the chicken takes just a few minutes to make!
IT’S EASY TO MAKE YOUR OWN!
You can customize your Caesar Pasta Salad with more or less Parmesan, dressing, lettuce, load on any of your favorite add-ins like bacon, eggs, olives, etc. or omit what you don’t like or have on hand. For a shortcut version, you can even use store-bought dressing, croutons and rotisserie chicken.
where is CAESAR SALAD from?
While Julius Caesar might be the most well-known Caesar around, he is not the namesake for tantalizing Caesar salad. It was actually invented by a different Caesar – Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant. He was living in my hometown of San Diego at the time while also operating a restaurant in Tijuana where he avoided the restrictions of Prohibition.
During a Fourth of July rush in 1924, the kitchen’s supplies were depleted and Cardini had to make do with what he had on hand. So, when you combine an Italian upbringing with 4th of July feeding frenzy you get the masterpiece of Caesar Salad. Today, Caesar Salad has inspired countless new creations – including this Caesar Pasta Salad!
Caesar Pasta Salad Ingredients
This Caesar Pasta Salad has three main components:
1) Pasta Salad
2) Caesar Dressing
This recipe is VERY forgiving! You can make it completely from scratch, or mix and match from-scratch and store-bought elements. You can add or omit anything you like to the pasta salad itself. The homemade dressing is far superior than store-bought, but you can use your favorite brand in a time crunch. My favorite chicken for this recipe is blackened chicken, but I’ve included lots of variations as well. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need for each one:
caesar PASTA SALAD ingredients
caesar Dressing ingredients
Your Caesar Pasta Salad is only as good as your Caesar Dressing, so you can proceed with confidence because this recipe is the BEST! Traditional Caesar Dressing is made with whole anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, raw egg yolk, freshly squeezed lemon juice, tangy Dijon mustard, spicy raw garlic, salty Parmesan and pepper. My recipe differs slightly by using sour cream and mayo instead of raw egg and olive oil and the results are hypnotic and extra easy!
DO I HAVE TO USE ANCHOVIES?
If you love or even like Caesar Dressing, then I would venture to say you like anchovies, you just don’t think you do. Anchovies are the key, umami rich ingredient that add saltiness and a savory, complex depth to this otherwise flat dressing without leaving it “fishy-tasting.” In fact, you probably won’t even realize they are in the dressing, aside from the deliciously deep, nondescript umami base they provide. So please, embrace the anchovy.
Anchovies are so good because they’re armed with secret weapons glutamic and inosinic acid—two molecules responsible for triggering our sensation of savoriness. The acids add an irreplaceable depth of flavor and savory sensation. If you omit the anchovies, the dressing will be flat, bland and wanting. Still, if you are vegan or allergic, I’ve provided some anchovy substitutes below.
WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD OF ANCHOVIES?
If you’d like to make Caesar Dressing without anchovies, you will find it is difficult to find a spot-on substitute. However, here are some possible substitutions:
-Anchovy paste: Use 1 tablespoon in this pasta salad recipe.
-Worcestershire sauce: This is probably as close to the real thing as it gets in terms of flavor because it is made with anchovies (or sardines). Start with 1 tablespoon and add more to taste.
–Fish sauce: Asian fish sauce is usually made from fermented anchovies, so it’s one of the best substitutes for anchovies in Caesar Salad Dressing. Fish sauce is strong and concentrated, so start with 1 teaspoon and add more to taste.
-Vegan Worcestershire sauce: If you are vegetarian or allergic to shellfish, look for anchovy-free Worcestershire sauce. Some vegan brands include Wizard’s, Annie’s and Whole Foods 365, but as always, check the labels first. Vegan brands typically are not gluten free but use soy, if that is something you need pay attention to.
-Capers: These are a vegan and vegetarian anchovy substitute with a briny, acidic, salty, savory flavor. Start with 2 tablespoons, minced and mashed, and add more to taste.
-Olives: Choose an olive with a salty brine like Kalamata or Castelvetrano and mash them up into a paste. Start with 2 tablespoons and add more to taste.
More ingredient and DIETARY SUBSTITUTIONS
This Caesar Dressing can be modified to suit your personal dietary preferences. Here’s some ideas:
- Mayonnaise substitute: Use avocado-based mayo or your favorite vegan mayonnaise substitute. Readers have said great things about grapeseed oil Vegainase.
- Sour cream: Fat-free sour cream can be used but remember, fat equals creaminess and flavor so adjust your expectations accordingly. You may also substitute with plain Greek yogurt or vegan mayonnaise.
- Parmesan substitute: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, try Whole Foods 365 or BelGioioso brands of Parmesan, which are truly vegetarian (most Parmesans contain animal rennet).
- Anchovy substitute: Use any of the above listed anchovy substitutes.
- Vegan Caesar dressing: Use vegan sour cream, vegan mayonnaise, vegan Worcestershire sauce, vegan Parmesan and replace the anchovies with 2 tablespoons minced and mashed capers.
- Tomato substitute: Grape tomatoes will work as well, however, cherry tomatoes are inherently sweeter than grape, so aim for cherry if you can. You can also chop up a few Roma tomatoes but make sure to seed them first.
- Mustard: If you don’t have Dijon mustard, swap it for any mustard such as regular yellow mustard, spicy brown mustard, French, whole grain, etc.
WHAT chicken is best for Caesar Pasta Salad?
For the best Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, use Blackened Chicken! It’s a juicy flavor bomb layered with unapologetically bold and dynamic Cajun seasonings so it doesn’t get completely get lost in the salad and it’s made without a marinade which means it’s super quick to whip up! And no, it won’t make your salad, spicy, just flavorful!
“Blackened” is a method of Cajun cooking in which chicken, beef, pork, fish, shrimp, etc. are coated in a spice rub then seared at high heat. The seasonings char, deepen in flavor and mingle with the butter to create an irresistible “blackened” charred crust that is smoky, spicy and complex giving way to juicy, buttery tender protein.
To make the blackened chicken, you’ll need two large chicken breasts and then homemade blackening seasoning which is a quick whisking together of: smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cayenne, thyme and oregano.
- Rotisserie chicken: You’ll need about 2 ½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Simply seasoned pan seared chicken: Slice two breast sliced through the equator and pound with the side of a can or meat mallet to an even thickness to tenderize the chicken and to help it cook more evenly. Season the chicken by brushing it lightly with olive oil and sprinkling with garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper or any of your favorite seasoning mixes. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add pounded chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes, or until deeply golden on one side. Flip chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked to 160 degrees F.
- Baked chicken: Slice, pound and season chicken per above instructions. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, or until cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
- Grilled chicken: Slice, pound and season chicken per above instructions. Grill chicken undisturbed for about 5 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 160 degrees F.) The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken.
- Homemade shredded chicken: Season chicken with salt, pepper and any other desired seasonings. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken on both sides, then carefully cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and is tender enough to shred. An 8-ounce chicken breast will need to simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes. Shred or chop once cool enough to handle.
- Leftover chicken: Chop up any leftover chicken for the tastiest leftovers!
- Pesto chicken: The chicken is enveloped in aromatic pesto bursting with basil and garlic as well as additional seasoning to ramp up the flavor. You can bake the chicken, grill the chicken or cook it on the stovetop.
- Caesar dressing marinated chicken: Increase the dressing recipe and marinate the chicken in about ⅓ cup dressing. Grill, bake or cook in a skillet.
HOW TO MAKE caesar pasta salad
This Caesar Pasta Salad will blow your mind with its hypnotic layers of flavor thanks to the homemade Caesar Dressing and Blackened Chicken. Let’s take a closer look at how to make it (full recipe measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Prep anchovies. Start by chopping the anchovies until finely minced. Next, use the side of your knife to mash the anchovies by pressing down and sliding the knife against the cutting board to create a paste.
- Step 2: Make the Caesar dressing. Add all of the dressing ingredients to a mixing bowl except the Parmesan and mix until smooth; then mix in the Parmesan. Chill the dressing in the refrigerator while you make the chicken and cook the pasta.
- Step 3: Make chicken fillets. Slice the chicken through the equator to create 4 fillets. Cover the fillets with plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet, side of a can or rolling pin to an even thickness, about ½-inch. This not only helps the chicken cook evenly, but makes it extra tender without the need for a marinade!
- Step 4: Spice rub the chicken. Mix all of the Blackening Seasonings together in a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry and lightly coat with olive oil. Season both sides of the chicken with the seasonings.
- Step 5: Cook the chicken. Cook the chicken in butter and olive oil for 3-4 minutes per side or until deeply blackened. Let rest 5 minutes before chopping.
- Step 6: Assemble the pasta salad. Toss the pasta, chicken, tomatoes and half of the dressing together in a large bowl.
- Step 7: Chill the pasta salad. Store the salad in the refrigerator for an hour or until ready to serve so the ingredients have time to meld.
- Step 8: Add remaining ingredients. When ready to serve, add the chopped Romaine, croutons, remaining dressing and freshly grated Parmesan. Toss to combine then dig in!
Tips for making caesar pasta salad
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is easy to make but here are a few tips to make it the best:
Use the homemade dressing – it’s 1000X better than any store-bought variety! I know it is extremely tempting to pick up a bottle of dressing, but I promise, nothing tastes as fresh and fabulous as your own Homemade Caesar Dressing – and it takes MINUTES to whisk together!
How to use leftover anchovies: These can be transferred to a small resealable bag with the extra olive oil, taking care they are completely submerged so they don’t dry out. You can also add olive oil if needed. Squeeze out excess air by wrapping the bag over and seal. The anchovies can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months or frozen for 6 months. To use up the leftover anchovies, whip up a batch of Pasta Puttanesca, add them to pizza, Niçoise toasts, potato salad, etc.
Don’t overcook the pasta. No one wants a mushy pasta salad! Cook the pasta just until al dente (i.e., is soft with a bit of a bite to it). After the pasta is cooked, rinse it with cold water to prevent it from continuing to cook and soften.
Toss pasta with olive oil. After the pasta is drained, immediately add it to a large bowl then toss it with some olive oil. If you skip this step, it can dry together and tear when tossed.
Plunge then dry lettuce. After you wash the lettuce, plunge it into ice cold water. This will help crisp and refresh the leaves. Next, use your salad spinner to dry the lettuce and then wrap the lettuce in a towel to ensure it’s perfectly dry AKA crispy instead of soggy. Dry lettuce also won’t water down or dilute the dressing.
Don’t chop the lettuce too small. Chop the lettuce into 1-inch pieces so it will hold up in the salad.
Use two types of Parmesan. I personally love combining two cuts of Parmesan cheese, finely grated and shaved. Finely grated Parmesan ensures every nook and cranny is dusted with Parmesan and shaved Parmesan offers salty, rich bursts of flavor. To make shaved Parmesan use a vegetable peeler and shave some off of a wedge.
Prep ahead. To save time, prep the dressing in advance and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Chilled dressing will also taste better. You may need to stir in a couple tablespoons of milk to thin.
Customize the ingredients. The pasta salad ingredients and measurements are simply suggestions. You can use add/swap any ingredients for your favorite add-ins; see some of variation ideas below.
Make the Caesar Pasta Salad perfect for YOU! Always adjust the finished pasta salad to taste AFTER it has chilled. You will be amazed how much the dressing mellows in the refrigerator. For tangier, add additional lemon juice, for more garlicky, add more minced garlic, for more umami, add additional minced/mashed anchovies and/or Parmesan. To tame the dressing, stir in additional sour cream or mayo.
CAESAR pasta salad VARIATIONS
Caesar Pasta Salad with its fabulous dressing and crunchy croutons is a great springboard for adding protein and other vegetables. Here are a few ideas to customize the salad:
- Swap in tortellini: These cheesy stuffed pasta pillows are one of my favorite pastas in salads. You can use any type of cheese tortellini, even sausage tortellini would be yummy! Make sure you use fresh, refrigerated tortellini and not dried tortellini on the shelf.
- Make it gluten-free: Use your favorite gluten-free medium pasta and gluten free croutons or make your own croutons with gluten free bread. You’ll also want to pay attention to use gluten free Worcestershire sauce in the dressing.
- Make your own croutons: This is easy to do by cubing half a loaf of sourdough or French bread into small pieces. Toss the cubes with ¼ cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon EACH dried basil, dried parsley, garlic powder and some freshly cracked salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or until golden, stirring halfway through.
- Use a different protein: Rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken, sauteed shrimp, grilled Shrimp, salami, pepperoni, leftover chopped pork tenderloin, ham etc. If adding salami, pepperoni, bacon or ham, reduce the salt in the recipe and add salt to taste.
- Add bacon: If you skip the smoky blackened chicken and just use rotisserie chicken (or skip the chicken altogether), then I suggest adding smoky, salty bacon. Use thick cut bacon so the bacon doesn’t get lost and retains its meaty texture when enveloped in the dressing. You can cook the bacon chopped or in slices on the stovetop or bake it in the oven.
- Use different greens: I love how crunchy yet neutral Romaine is but you can also use half Romaine, arugula, kale, butterhead lettuce, shaved Brussels sprouts, etc., but be aware these stronger greens will impact the flavor.
- Add avocados: Add sliced or chopped avocados for a satisfying creamy burst to complement the crunchy textures. Make sure you use ripe avocados but not overly ripe or they will turn to mush. To tell if an avocado is ripe, squeeze it gently. A ripe avocado should yield slightly to pressure but not feel overly soft. If your avocados ripen before you are ready to use them, pop them in the refrigerator to dramatically slow down the ripening process. For more detailed information on how to select avocados, see my guacamole recipe.
- Add eggs: Add 2-4 hard-boiled eggs.
- Add corn: Add two ears sweet corn on the cob. You can slice the kernels directly off of the cob OR char them for an amped up layer of smoky, juicy YUM like I do in my Corn Salsa, Avocado Corn Salsa, and Mexican Salad recipes.
- Add pepperoncini: They are slightly sweet but mostly tangy with a slight zip of heat. Pepperoncini typically come in a glass jar and are easy to find at your grocery store next to the sandwich condiments such as pickles, banana peppers and jarred roasted red bell peppers.
- Add olives: Gems of dark, rich salty flavor.
- Add pickled jalapenos: For a spicy, tangy kick! Start with just a little and stir in more to taste – you don’t want to ruin your entire pasta salad by making it too spicy!
what to serve with pasta salad
This pasta salad is a show stopping side dish perfect for any summer gathering! It goes with all your favorite proteins, pastas, soups, pizzas or sandwiches. Here are just a few ideas for serving:
Look for a side to your grilled meat? Serve Caesar Pasta Salad with: Marinated Flank Steak, Grilled Shrimp, Grilled Barbecue Chicken, Barbecue Chicken Kabobs, Steak Kabobs, Buffalo Chicken, Best Marinated Grilled Chicken and on and on.
Looking for a side to your favorite protein? Serve Caesar Pasta Salad without the chicken with Crazy Tender Pot Roast, Garlic Butter Pork Tenderloin, Barbecue Ribs, Lemon Garlic Chicken and Potatoes, Oven Fried Chicken and everything in between!
Need a side for your Italian dinner? Serve this Caesar Pasta Salad recipe with Chicken Florentine, Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagna, White Chicken Lasagna, Manicotti, Chicken Parmesan, Baked Penne, Million Dollar Mac or Shrimp Fettuccine, etc.
Need a side for your sandwiches and burgers? Serve Caesar Pasta Salad with BBQ Brisket Sandwiches, BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, French Dips, Philly Cheesesteaks, Italian Beef Sandwiches, Cubano Sandwiches, Best Burgers, and BBQ Burgers.
Need a side for your soups? Serve Caesar Pasta Salad with Chicken Stew, Chicken Pot Pie Soup, Crockpot Chili, Tomato Basil Soup, etc.
Need a side for your pizzas? Serve Caesar Salad with Margherita Pizza, Barbecue Chicken Pizza, Philly Cheese Steak Pizza, Gyro Pizza, Pulled Pork Pizza, etc.
This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad can be assembled with the pasta, chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers and of half the dressing up to 24 hours ahead of time or you can prep the individual components further in advance and then wait to toss everything together:
-Vegetables: Lettuce, tomatoes and bell peppers be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
-Croutons: Can be made up to one week in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
-Pasta: Can be made 48 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator tossed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
-Dressing: Can be made one week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
HOW TO STORE
Cover leftover Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The longer the pasta salad is refrigerated, the softer the croutons will become. If your leftovers taste too dry, then toss with a drizzle of olive oil or leftover dressing if you have some.
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Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
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- 16 oz. bowtie/farfalle, rotini, penne or other medium pasta
- 4 hearts of Romaine lettuce, 1-inch chop (6 cups)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups croutons
- ½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, more or less to taste
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp EACH smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
- 1 tsp EACH salt, dried oregano, dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Caesar Dressing (Or Store-bought)
- 8 whole anchovy fillets, blotted dry (See notes for substitutions)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt, pepper, plus more to taste
- 2/3 cup finely, freshly grated Parmesan cheese (like powder)
- milk as needed
- Mince the anchovies, then use the side of your knife to mash by pressing down and sliding the knife against the cutting board to form a paste.
- Combine with the remaining dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl except the Parmesan; mix until smooth. Finally, stir in the Parmesan. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Slice the chicken through the equator to create 4 fillets. Cover the fillets with plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet, side of a can or rolling pin to an even thickness, about ½-inch.
- Mix all of the seasonings together in a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry and lightly coat with olive oil. Season both sides of the chicken.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes per side until blackened and cooked to 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and wait at least 5 minutes before chopping.
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions just until al dente. (You can chop your salad ingredients while the pasta is cooking.) Drain, rinse with cold water and transfer to a very large servig bowl. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
- Add the chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper and half of the dressing, stir to evenly coat. Refrigerate pasta salad and remaining dressing separately until ready to use (best served the same day).
- When ready to serve, add the chopped Romaine and croutons and toss with the remaining dressing. You may need to thin the dressing a little with a couple tablespoons of milk before using. Garnish the salad with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Season with plenty of freshly cracked pepper to taste. Dig in!
Tips and Tricks and substitutions
- Use the homemade dressing – it’s 1000X better than any store-bought variety! I know it is extremely tempting to pick up a bottle of dressing, but I promise, nothing tastes as fresh and fabulous as your own Homemade Caesar Dressing – and it takes MINUTES to whisk together!
- Chicken substitute: Use about 2 ½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken, leftover chopped chicken or your favorite pan seared or grilled chicken.
- Recipe variations: Try adding bacon (not needed if using the smoky blackened chicken), salami, avocados, eggs, corn, pepperoncini, olives, pickled jalapenos, etc.
- Anchovies: These are a key ingredient so please don’t skip! Anchovies are the key, umami rich ingredient that add saltiness and a savory, complex depth to this otherwise flat dressing without leaving it “fishy-tasting.” The anchovies you want for this recipe are sold in cans packed in olive oil, usually located next to the tuna fish.
- Leftover anchovies: Store leftovers submerged in olive oil in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months or frozen for 6 months. To use up the leftover anchovies, whip up a batch of Pasta Puttanesca, add them to pizza, Niçoise toasts, potato salad, etc.
- Anchovy paste: Whole anchovies will impart the best flavor but you may substitute with 1 tablespoon anchovy paste if needed. Anchovy paste is found in a tube next to the canned anchovies and tuna fish.
- Anchovy substitute? Nothing is as good as the real thing but here are some options to choose from: 1) increase the Worcestershire sauce to 2 tablespoons, 2) add 1 teaspoon fish sauce plus more taste, 3) add 2 tablespoons, minced and mashed capers. Adjust any of these quantities as needed.
- Vegan Caesar Dressing: Use vegan sour cream, vegan mayonnaise (like grapeseed oil Vegainase) vegan Worcestershire sauce, vegan Parmesan (try Whole Foods 365 or BelGioioso brands of Parmesan) and replace the anchovies with 2 tablespoons minced and mashed capers.
- Gluten-free: Use your favorite gluten-free medium pasta and gluten free croutons or make your own croutons with gluten free bread. You’ll also want to pay attention to use gluten free Worcestershire sauce in the dressing.
Prep AheadThis Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad can be assembled with the pasta, chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers and of half the dressing up to 24 hours ahead of time or you can prep the individual components further in advance and then wait to toss everything together:
- Vegetables: Lettuce, tomatoes and bell peppers be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Croutons: Can be made up to one week in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Pasta: Can be made 48 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator tossed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Dressing: Can be made one week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
StorageCover leftovers with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The longer the pasta salad is refrigerated, the softer the croutons will become but the lettuce should mostly stay crispy. If your leftovers taste too dry, then toss with a drizzle of olive oil or leftover dressing if you have some.
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