0 hours 5 mins
0 hours 7-10 mins
0 hours 15 mins
8 Oz. Rotini pasta (or other short pasta shape)
2 Cups cooked chicken thigh or breast meat
2 Celery stalks, chopped
3 Green onions or a quarter of yellow onion, chopped
1/4 Cup Sliced or slivered almonds
1/3 Cup Dried cherries
1/3 – 1/2 Cup Poppyseed salad dressing (to your liking)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water for about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. (I cooked mine for five minutes). You want the pasta al dente (slightly chewy and slightly firm). Drain, rinse with cold water and let the pasta cool completely.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and taste. Adjust seasoning.
3. Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour to chill and let the flavors meld together.
4. Serve on a platter or in a bowl with a sprinkle of almonds and/or cherries. Enjoy.
NOTES: This is an old recipe that I created over 20 years ago after having a similar recipe in a little cafe in Minnetonka, MN. It was such a delicious pasta salad that as soon as I got home, I started trying to duplicate it. My Poppyseed Pasta Salad with Chicken, Almonds and Cherries has changed over the years, (like the brand of poppyseed dressing I use) but this is a close representation of that salad. I don’t remember the name of the cafe, but every time I make it, I think of my time in that city…beautiful.
I use Ken’s Poppyseed dressing. I’ve tried lots of dressings and many are really good but I find this particular brand isn’t too sweet…I like the balance. I’ve chosen rotini pasta for this dish but any and short, thick pasta will work. Substitutions could include: penne, rotelle, shells, etc. I’ve also made this with whole wheat pasta, chickpea pasta and spinach pasta. They all worked. I say, use your favorite and it will come out great every time.
This salad is not difficult to make and only has a handful of high-quality ingredients. To get started, pull everything together. Cook your pasta abut two minutes less than the package calls for. You’ll want your pasta firm for this salad. Rinse the cooked pasta under cold water and let it drain completely.
I cooked up three chicken thighs for this salad. BUT feel free to cook two large chicken breasts or take help from the grocery store and purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken or the pre-cooked and pulled chicken meat found in the deli section. All of it works. I just happen to think there is a lot more flavor in thigh meat and I can season it the way I want (just salt and pepper) and I cook it in a little olive oil on the stove top. All of that just adds flavor. Cut up your chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Next, chop your onions and celery.
I just dried tart cherries in this recipe. I love them. But I’ve sure you could substitute other dried fruits like apricots and raisins and that would work just fine. When it comes to the almonds, today I had sliced almonds on hand but slivered almonds work just as well. And you know what I’m going to say, use your favorite nuts. Pistachios, walnuts, cashews and macadamia nuts would all work.
I simply put everything into a large bowl and toss to get everything coated in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and taste, taste, taste. Adjust the seasoning and if you want more dressing, go ahead and add it.
I recommend chilling the salad for at least an hour to let all the flavors come together. Serve on a large platter or in a bowl. This is just so good. I find both adults and kids love it. Feel free to double or triple the recipe, it works great. The salad will hold in the fridge for several days. Enjoy.
Did you like this recipe? Be sure to try some of my other favorite salad recipes. These are some of my most popular: