Pasta is tossed with spinach, mandarin oranges, lots of veggies, sliced almonds, chicken and drizzled with a flavorful dressing. This mandarin chicken pasta salad is sure to be a huge hit for the entire family!
Pasta salads are pretty much a staple at my home during the Spring and Summer. Our all-time favorites (featured on the blog) are this pesto pasta and tortellini salad, this chicken taco pasta salad with a catalina dressing, and my personal favorite this Greek pasta salad.
However, after making this salad (and subsequently making it twice more in the same week), I think it’s safe to say we have a new “family favorite pasta salad.” This salad is packed with flavor, extremely filling, has all the right textures, and, honestly, it just feels plain good eating all the vegetables/healthy ingredients while absolutely loving it.
It’s also a salad that whips up pretty quickly thanks to a huge short-cut: rotisserie chicken!
And now for the veggies in this salad… You can easily switch out or add different vegetables depending on your preferences. I added red pepper, spinach, carrot, cilantro and green onions. All get prepped very quickly and taste amazing when paired together. Some other ideas that would be great: celery, red onion, cucumbers, or even kale in place of the spinach.
As far as the pasta — use whatever small pasta you like that has a lot of ridges. The more ridges in the pasta, the more dressing that will get absorbed into the pasta pieces.
Then of course, I can’t neglect to mention my two favorite ingredients in this mandarin chicken salad – the mandarin oranges and the sliced almonds. The mandarin oranges are amazing in the salad – the right burst of flavor and sweetness. I added a whole can to the salad because I love having the oranges in almost every bite. You can always scale down how many oranges if you aren’t as crazy about them as me. And the almonds add a bit more sweetness and some nice crunch!
I hope you love this mandarin chicken salad as much as we do!
Pasta is tossed with spinach, mandarin oranges, lots of veggies, sliced almonds, chicken and drizzled with a flavorful dressing.
- 1 package (16 ounces) bowtie pasta
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 2 and 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/3 cup fresh green onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Optional: 1/3 cup sliced almonds (toasted if desired)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup light soy sauce
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer to a large bowl and immediately toss with 3-4 tablespoons of the dressing (see next step).
While the pasta is cooking prepare the dressing: in a mason jar, combine vegetable oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, pepper, and sesame seeds. Place the lid on and shake well until combined.
In the large bowl with the pasta, add the coarsely chopped spinach, shredded rotisserie chicken, chopped red pepper, drained mandarin oranges, shredded carrots, chopped green onions, and fresh cilantro.
Toss all the ingredients together gently and then dress with the dressing to desired amounts. Enjoy immediately. (This salad doesn't store well with the dressing so only dress what will be eaten right away). If desired, top with sliced almonds.
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