Protein Pasta Salad [Chicken and Lemon Herb Vinaigrette]

March 6, 2024

Protein Pasta Salad [Chicken and Lemon Herb Vinaigrette]

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This Protein Pasta Salad with Chicken features Barilla Protein+ pasta, seasoned chicken breast, crisp cucumbers, juicy cherry tomatoes, tangy marinated artichokes, and creamy sharp cheddar cheese!

Toss the pasta salad with my homemade, bright, flavorful lemon herb vinaigrette, or use your favorite bottled dressing. Keep reading for helpful tips and suggestions about the recipe! 💡

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Protein Pasta Salad with Chicken is an easy, wholesome recipe with tons of protein, fiber, and vegetables. Elevate your meal prep with this protein-packed, easy, balanced option. Perfect for lunch, dinner, or those upcoming summer BBQ parties!

It’ll satisfy your cravings while providing a nutritious boost. Bookmark this easy recipe and enjoy it year-round. 🙌🏽😊

Two bowls (orange and beige) of protein pasta salad with chicken and lemon parsley vinaigrette with juiced lemon halves.

Yes, pasta salad can contain protein, depending on the ingredients used. Common protein sources are deli meats such as salami or pepperoni, tuna, crab, chicken, etc.

This recipe’s main protein sources are high-protein pasta, chicken breast, and, believe it or not, cheddar cheese! The high protein pasta salad with chicken offers thirty-nine grams of protein per serving as a small lunch or side dish (approximately eight servings). Eating a larger portion means you’re looking at fifty to seventy-five grams of protein per serving!

Two bowls (orange and beige) of protein pasta salad with chicken and a box of Barilla protein+ pasta.

You’re missing out if you haven’t tried Barilla Protein+ Pasta yet! It provides an excellent source of plant-based protein (ten grams per serving) and fiber (five grams per serving), with the same great taste and texture as traditional pasta.

I’ve tried several other plant-based pastas, from chickpea to lentil, and the Barilla Protein+ Pasta is by far the best texture-wise. I’ve officially replaced regular pasta with this high-protein pasta (unless I’m making homemade or going to a restaurant)!

The ingredients list is short, and it includes a blend of the following flours: semolina (Wheat), durum wheat flour, lentil flour, pea protein, chickpea flour, barley flour, and spelt flour.

Cook the pasta according to package then rinse with cold water and set aside!

Getting enough protein in your diet is important to your health for several reasons. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, including muscles, bones, skin, and organs. It also plays a vital role in supporting a healthy immune system, producing enzymes and hormones, and maintaining fluid balance.

Additionally, protein may help regulate metabolism, aid in weight management by promoting feelings of fullness, and support overall energy levels!

Protein pasta salad with chicken ingredients: cherry tomatoes, artichokes, cheddar cheese, chicken, cucumber, lemon parsley vinaigrette, protein pasta.
  • Chicken Breast: I use either chicken breast or chicken breast tenderloins. Whichever is on sale at the time (if I’m lucky). The seasoned chicken breast adds savory flavor and substantial protein (forty-three grams per cup) to this high protein pasta salad recipe. See below for how to cook it!

  • Cheddar Cheese: I use sharp yellow, but any cheddar will work. Cheddar cheese adds another protein source, offering seven grams per cup. You can use an alternate cheese such as mozzarella or colby jack, which have around the same protein content. If you need a reason to eat more cheese, here it is. 😉

  • Cucumbers: Crispy cucumbers add refreshing crunch and hydration to this protein pasta salad recipe. Rich in water and low in calories, cucumbers are a refreshing, nutritious addition, providing essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K and potassium. They also offer dietary fiber for digestive health.

  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes: I like heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes, but you can use any kind. They’re tiny flavor bombs with beautiful, vibrant colors, ranging from red to yellow to purple. The best ones (in my opinion) have a firm, not mushy, exterior and a balanced sweet and tangy flavor!

  • Marinated Artichokes: Mezzetta (or your favorite brand) marinated artichokes add Mediterranean flair to this protein pasta salad recipe. Tender and flavorful, they’re marinated in oils, herbs, and spices. My husband and I usually eat them straight out of the jar before they even make it to the pasta salad. Next time I’ll be buying two jars!

Add your other favorite ingredients, such as black olives, red bell pepper (raw or roasted), red onion, avocado chunks, broccoli, or fresh basil leaves! The pasta-bilities are endless. 🤣

To prepare the chicken breast tenderloins (or chicken breast), preheat your oven to four hundred degrees Fahrenheit (two hundred four degrees Celcius).

Add the chicken to a baking dish and spray it with avocado or olive oil. Season both sides of the chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Bake it in the oven for twenty-five to twenty-seven minutes for tenderloins or (depending on their thickness) cook whole chicken breasts for thirty to thirty-five minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into cubes.

The chicken should reach an internal temperature of one-hundred sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit (seventy-four degrees Celcius) and be super juicy, tender, and delicious!

This is a bright, tangy, flavorful addition to high protein pasta salad. The lemon herb vinaigrette comprises six simple ingredients: extra-virgin olive oil, parsley lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. I sometimes add a small handful of basil leaves and a squirt or two of Dijon mustard. Either way, it’s delicious and pairs perfectly with the chicken, veggies, and cheddar cheese!

Protein pasta salad with chicken lemon herb vinaigrette.



Place a handful of parsley, peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse a few times to break up the ingredients. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly while blending, allowing the ingredients to emulsify. Blend until fully combined. You can also use a blender or hand blender if you don’t have a food processorI like to double the vinaigrette recipe in case anyone wants extra, then use any leftovers on a garden salad.

I get it if you don’t want to make this lemon herb vinaigrette recipe. Although this is the easiest dressing, sometimes you want to finish a recipe quickly with minimal effort. You can use your favorite bottled dressing instead! We do it sometimes, too. 🙂

One of my favorite dressings is Ken’s Steakhouse Italian Dressing (it’s usually BOGO at Safeway if you have one near you). Another favorite is the O Organics Organic Italian Dressing; unfortunately, it’s been out of stock for quite some time…

To finish preparing the Protein Pasta Salad with Chicken recipe, you’re going to:

  1. Slice the cucumber, then cut the slices into quarters.
  2. Halve the cherry tomatoes.
  3. Dice the cheddar cheese into small cubes.
  4. Chop the marinated artichoke hearts.
  5. Cube the chicken.
  6. Add ingredients to protein pasta.
  7. Toss with lemon herb vinaigrette and serve!

I hope you enjoy my Protein Pasta Salad with Chicken recipe! Keep reading for more of my favorite high-protein recipes. 😍

I’d love to hear from you! About your experience with this dish, any alterations you may have made and loved (or didn’t love), or just life and cooking in general. Please leave a question, comment, and/or review below, or get in touch via email.

Follow me on social media to stay connected and keep up with the fun! I sometimes post different recipes my husband and I make that I don’t share here on the blog, other cooking, and lifestyle tips, and more.

Bye for now! – Jenna G.

MORE HIGH PROTEIN RECIPES:

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Protein pasta salad in a glass bowl with a bottle of lemon parsley vinaigrette.

Protein Pasta Salad with Chicken.


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Jenna
  • Total Time: 42 minutes
  • Yield: 8 bowls 1x

Description

This Protein Pasta Salad features Barilla Protein+ pasta, chunks of seasoned chicken breast, a bright and flavorful lemon herb vinaigrette, marinated artichoke hearts, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. Perfect for year-round meal prep and summer BBQs!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Chicken Breast:

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette:

  • handful of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3-4 lemons, depending on size)
  • 46 garlic cloves (depending on size), peeled
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1 box Barilla Protein+ Rotini Pasta
  • 8-ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 14.5-ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts (love Mezzetta’s), chopped
  • 1 cucumber (English seedless or reg), sliced and then quartered
  • 10 ounces of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Instructions

  1. Bake the chicken. Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C). Add the chicken to a baking dish and spray with oil. Season both sides evenly with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 25-27 minutes for tenderloins or (depending on their thickness) cook whole chicken breast for 30-35 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into cubes. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74° C).
    Protein pasta salad with chicken - cooked seasoned chicken in a white baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta. Follow the instructions on the Barilla Protein+ Pasta (read a review of this product above). Don’t forget to generously salt the water before boiling!
    Two bowls (orange and beige) of protein pasta salad with chicken and a box of Barilla protein+ pasta.
  3. Prepare the lemon herb vinaigrette. Place a handful of parsley, peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse a few times to break up the ingredients. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running, allowing the ingredients to emulsify. Blend until fully combined. You can also use a blender or hand blender if you don’t have a food processor! I like to double the vinaigrette recipe in case anyone wants extra, then use any leftovers on a garden salad.
    Lemon parsley vinaigrette in a glass bottle with a halved lemon and parsley bunch on the sides.
  4. Prepare the remaining ingredients. Slice the cucumber, then cut the slices into quarters. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Dice the cheddar cheese into small cubes. Chop the marinated artichoke hearts. Cube the chicken.
    Protein pasta salad with chicken ingredients: cherry tomatoes, artichokes, cheddar cheese, chicken, cucumber.
  5. Serve! Toss everything (including the vinaigrette) with the pasta. Reserve some lemon herb vinaigrette for a quick pasta refresh if you’re not immediately serving the protein pasta salad.
    Protein pasta salad with chicken ingredients in glass bowl with lemon parsley vinaigrette being poured on it.

Notes

  • Lemon Herb Vinaigrette: You can also use a blender or hand blender if you don’t have a food processorI like to double the vinaigrette recipe in case anyone wants extra, then use any leftovers on a garden salad. I sometimes add a small handful of basil leaves and squirt or two of Dijon mustard, too! 
  • Additions/Customizations: Add your other favorite ingredients, such as black olives, red bell pepper (raw or roasted), red onion, avocado chunks, broccoli, or fresh basil leaves!
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 27 minutes
  • Category: Pasta, Salads, Side Dishes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Oven, Food Processor
  • Cuisine: American
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