Lemon Poppyseed Pasta Salad

A light and refreshing pasta salad packed with fruits, vegetables, and some pecans. The homemade dressing is simple and healthy.

Lemon Poppyseed Pasta Salad

I adore pasta salads.

I love big green salads too, but I’m usually hungry after like ten minutes.

After a pasta salad, it’s more around thirty minutes. Just kidding guys. I really don’t eat every 10-30 minutes. Not usually anyways.

There are those days though….

Lemon Poppyseed Pasta SaladThis one is fresh and ready for Spring complete with a lemon poppy-seed dressing.

But this isn’t your typical poppy-seed dressing. It’s pretty healthy. In fact, no sugar added kind of healthy. And made with good-for-you fats namely olive oil.

It tastes light and refreshing, but very flavorful. The fresh lemon (zest + juice) and poppyseeds plus some honey are the main contributors to that flavor.

And there is a tiny bit of mayo, but I use the olive oil or light mayo. This time – light mayo made it in this dressing. And then just a touch of dijon mustard with a few spices.

And of course there is vinegar. I used rice vinegar to make it more mild, but you can use white wine vinegar if you want a little bit of a more prominent flavor.

Lemon Poppyseed Pasta SaladAnd the pasta I used – how cute it it?

Butttt confession time, I’m not even really sure how to pronounce it.

So good thing I’m writing this. Because it would be totally embarrassing if I had to tell you what pasta to use, out loud.

It’s Radiatore. I try to roll the end and make it sound Italian because that is fun. Until someone is listening.

Lemon Poppyseed Pasta Salad

This salad is so customizable. Let’s just talk about the options for a minute.

I used lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that complement each other well in this dish. Even my burger and fry loving husband ate his portions in minutes and loved it.

The fruit – strawberries and grapes. And craisins – would those be considered fruit? Anyhow, you could leave out the craisins if you wanted to. I love em, but they aren’t a real important player in this salad. If you don’t like strawberries or grapes you could replace them with other fruits or just use double of one of them (double grapes or double strawberries). Other fruit options: raspberries, blueberries, and green grapes would all work great in this salad.

For the veggies I used yellow peppers. I love the mini ones because I think they are so cute, but you can use a large one if you’d rather. Not quite sure on the conversion, but I’d imagine one or one and a half would equal the 6 miniature peppers I used. You could try broccoli in place of the peppers if desired.

Celery adds crunch and gets pretty flavorful once the dressing is all mixed in. Cucumbers could replace the celery, or again – broccoli is a good option.

Lemon Poppyseed Dressed Pasta SaladAnd we’re left with the chicken and pecans.

Chicken – I just cooked two boneless skinless chicken breasts on the stovetop and then chopped them up to put in this salad. However, you can totally leave out the chicken (I would recommend adding more veggies or fruits) for a vegetarian salad. Or you can prepare the chicken differently – shredded perhaps.

The pecans are finely chopped and could also be left out if desired. Or you could change em out for a different kind of nut. I’m wanting to try sliced almonds the next time I make this.

Which will be very soon. It went all too fast in my house…

The BEST lemon poppyseed dressed pasta salad! And it's good for you!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Lemon Poppyseed Pasta Salad
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 box (16 ounces) Radiatore Pasta
  • 2 cups chopped chicken (2 boneless skinless chicken breasts)*
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries, stems removed
  • 1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
  • 5-6 miniature yellow bell peppers (or 1 and 1/2 large one)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, or sub slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, optional
Dressing
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light mayo
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (do not use regular)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoon poppyseeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon zest of a lemon
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Drain and rinse in cool water.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the fruits and vegetables - chop the strawberries (remove stems, halve the grapes, chop and remove the stems and seeds from the yellow peppers, chop the celery.
  4. Combine the fruits and vegetables with the chopped pecans and craisins. Mix together gently.
  5. Stir in the pasta and mix gently.
  6. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and (if desired) Mrs. Dash chicken grilling blends to taste.
  7. Lightly coat your skillet with 2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil.
  8. Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Place the chicken in the skillet and then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 8 to 12 minutes.
  9. As the chicken cooks, turn it occasionally so it browns evenly. If it starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  10. Remove the chicken, allow to cool, and chop. Add to the salad.
  11. Meanwhile combine all of the dressing ingredients in a large jar. Shake well to combine.
  12. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until completely combined.
  13. Sprinkle feta cheese over the salad.
  14. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge.
  15. Return any leftovers to the fridge in an airtight container.
Notes
*I recommend adding olive oil, salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash chicken grilling blends to coat the chicken before cooking in the skillet

Craving some more salad?

Tortellini and Pasta Pesto Salad
Ttortellini and Pasta Pesto Salad

IMG_9998_edited-1
Chicken and Berry Spinach Salad

Detox Quinoa Salad
Detox Quinoa & Veggie Salad

Comments

  1. says

    I have a total weakness for pasta salad, if it’s at a salad bar or on a table, I can’t resist! I especially love when they’re healthy and I don’t have to worry about copious amounts of mayo. Such a relief on my food conscious. :) This guys is so springy and vibrant — I love it!

  2. says

    This reminds me of a poppy seed chicken salad that I absolutely adore – but this way, it can be a whole meal! Yum! Btw, I LOVE the pasta shapes you used :) What a fun-looking meal.

  3. says

    I am loving this salad Chelsea! I adore fruit in my salad. And your pics are just gorgeous!!

  4. says

    Gosh, this pasta is so pretty, Chelsea! Especially with all that fruit on top. Love the lemon-poppyseed dressing too! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of pasta before, but it’s so cute! I definitely don’t know how to pronounce it either, haha. Good thing you don’t have to know how to pronounce it to eat it all up. :)

    • chelseamessyapron says

      Haha!! I totally agree with that! And good thing blogging doesn’t require taking outloud haha! Thanks Beth!

  5. says

    Love the combination of flavors in this pasta salad! Really like that this doesn’t have much mayo in it, nice and light! Perfect for spring. Lemon anything is always the best. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing! Have a good Monday :)

  6. says

    This is an absolutely gorgeous salad (and I can’t pronounce that pasta’s name for the life of me, either :)! It looks like spring in a bowl and I love the idea of adding fruit. Can’t wait to try it out when things warm up a bit more!

  7. says

    Whoa! This pasta salad is totally making me swoon, Chelsea! It looks tasty, fantasic and something I want to dive into right now. Beautiful photos too. :)

    Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays. Pinning and sharing on social media!

  8. says

    Haha, I totally have those days that I have to eat every 30 minutes – today might be one of those days and a big bowl of this pasta salad sounds like just what I need :) It looks awesome with all the pretty colors and the dressing sounds divine!

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