Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken, Feta, and Olives

by Andie Mitchell on June 10, 2010

Sometimes I have no idea what I’ll do next with chicken. I think I’ve done all I can with nature’s blandest white meat. I’m plum clucked out. Interestingly, these are usually the times when chicken breast is a steal at the market. At the very sight of a flashy sale sign, I elbow kindly 74 year olds out of the way, dig deep into that chilled chest of poultry, and emerge with five styrofoam packs. Triumph. Give me an inch, Stop and Shop, and I’ll take a mile.

Thinking I’ve just won the chicken lottery, I get home and find myself questioning two things: 1) my irreverence for the elderly, and 2) what the hell am I going to do with 5 packs of chicken? I wrack my brain for all of five minutes, scanning my mental recipe files for the last frontier of chicken dishes, then decide it’s hopeless. I consult a dear friend.

Wrong number. I call another.

End pieces know best.

Ahh. Mental clarity. “If you just marinate the chicken, the recipe will come.” Sound advice. Similar to how I operate my bank account: spend it and the money will come. Hasn’t worked yet, but I’m hopeful.

But this brings me to yet another question: which marinade should I use? … Hmm. I suppose it should be some sort of all-purpose sauce. A flavor profile that would suit a wide range of dishes. Fearing that if I don’t make the decision soon I’d resort to yet another friend:

I make the fastest decision I can. The most recent marinade I whipped up. Remember the chicken souvlaki I made last week? That delicious Greek marinade that incorporated flavors of oregano, thyme, and bright lemon? The one that left the chicken so moist and juicy that I thought about regressing to infancy and sporting a bib? That one.

I whisked up the marinade, sent the chicken off for a dip in the Mediterranean, and went about my day. By dinnertime the next evening, wouldn’t you know it, a recipe came to me. A simple Greek pasta salad that marries tart lemon, garlic infused olive oil, salty kalamata olives, creamy feta, and those tender pieces of chicken.  Eaten hot or cold.

Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken, Feta, and Olives (marinade adapted from this Chicken Souvlaki recipe, Real Simple)

(serves 4)

For Chicken and Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 cups cooked penne pasta (preferably whole wheat)
  • fresh lemon slices, for garnish

In a large bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients.

Add the chicken breast and toss to evenly coat it in the sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the meal, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly so that the garlic does not burn. Overbrowning the garlic will give the whole dish a bitter flavor and will disturb the taste balance significantly.

Add the chicken to the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side.

Flip.

Add the spinach. Just toss it in the pan and stir it around. It will begin to wilt almost immediately. It cooks down quite a bit, so don’t be overwhelmed and thinking you’re adding too much of the green stuff.

During this time, you should have been boiling penne in a large ot of water. Drain it and set it aside for a few moments.

Continue to stir the mixture in the pan for another minute, until the spinach is a deeper, more vibrant green, and the chicken is cooked through.

Add the cooked penne.

Then toss in the kalamata olives. Remove the pan from heat and add the feta. Toss the mixture to combine.

Serve with a lemon slice.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

M.J. Jacobsen June 10, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Your recipes just inspire me to get out there and shove old ladies around…..kidding! (whoops, forgot I’m an old lady!)
This recipe looks so good, and I love feta cheese. I have most of the ingredients, just need to get spinach and chicken. Sundays dinner is all figured out! Thanks!

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L @ Whole Wheat Or Bust! June 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm

As Ive grown up to be my 20 year old self, I have began liking things I used to hate (mustard, pickles, mayo, peanut butter, avocado, bread??). However, I still don’t like feta and many other kinds of cheese or olives! I want to so bad! Gah!

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Cindy June 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

ohhhhhhhhh, I just bought white chocolate chips…I know what I can make for din….

oh, right green chicken and pasta…sorry. those bars distracted me.

I pan fried scallops last night. First time ever.

do you have a gerat to die for recipe for those?

I want to make them again!

and I am taking the THRIVE in 30 challenge and I am so filled up with super foods that I couldn’t even finsih my sprout infused salad.

and I was dying for the stuffed grape leaves. half a salad and I am stuffed.

where’s the room for those BARS???

always leave it to you to tempt our taste buds!
xoxoxoxo

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Nora@LifeLifeEatRight June 10, 2010 at 9:43 pm

your posts make me happy! Love this salad…not only because I love flavors of Greek food but also because it is perfect for summer! Those bars look like heaven. Lets have a picnic!

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Madeline - Greens and Jeans June 10, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Feta is the most magical ingredient

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runnerforever June 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

That is not your everyday pasta dish, even the chicken looks extra flavorful. Yum!

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Faith June 11, 2010 at 6:08 am

I love chicken but I sometimes get sick of eating it the same old way. This is a wonderful, fresh idea! I’ve actually got a couple packs of chicken in my freezer at the moment, just waiting for inspriation…thanks, sweetie! :)

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Lindsay June 11, 2010 at 6:59 am

Oooh! That pasta salad would be a major it for a dinner party!

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Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life June 11, 2010 at 7:47 am

Looks awesome!

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Katie @ Health for the Whole Self June 11, 2010 at 8:14 am

Another one of your recipes has been bookmarked!!! My husband loves Greek food, so this will be a hit. We’re actually going to a Greek festival tonight, which is sure to be tasty!

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman June 11, 2010 at 8:27 am

When in doubt, add pasta. That’s my motto. I love Greek salads so I’m saving this recipe. it’s like that, but with pasta. Yum!

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Kelly June 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

Hehe I love your thinking process. That looks delish!

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homecookedem June 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

What a delicious greek pasta salad!! I think the feta is what is really making me salivate! ;) You are so creative!! :)

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Kelly June 11, 2010 at 9:28 am

Seriously can I please come live with you??

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Noodle January 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Its been said that the more interesting shapes of pasta let whatever sauce adhere to them better.There is also the visual appeal of a different shape in a pasta dish, as well as the different colours of pastas made with different vegatables.One thing that might work is, cook two batches of noodles, the larger portion for the adults in whatever shape you wish, then a small portion of "kid friendly shapes", for the toddlers, then just top them with your consistantly yummy sauce. What it all boils down to is:its not what shape of pasta you use, its the love and care that went into fixing the meal for your group of friends.Cheers

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Minda March 26, 2011 at 5:06 am

Um. You might want to rethink using iodized salt. It’s BAD news! Go with true unprocesed sea. Google the topic for more info. I like ur blog :)

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