A Twin Cities chain of grocery stores has a cherry chicken pasta salad that is truly hard to resist. I don’t even know how or why I tried this – it really isn’t my style, but I may or may not get a small container of it on Friday afternoons. While it is undeniably delicious, I knew it could be equally delicious made-over.

The pasta could be whole-grain, the chicken, well, it would preferably be organic or free-range and the mayo and poppy seed dressing? Could definitely benefit from some lightening. So here it is – it may not be as creamy as the store version, but it is certainly a lot better for you and I promise you won’t miss all the mayo!

Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad  – makes a large bowl

  • 8 oz whole-grain penne
  • 8 oz chicken thighs, cooked and chopped (we grilled ours)
  • 3 oz dried cherries
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Briannas poppy seed dressing

Prepare pasta as directed. Let cool. Combine mayo and poppy seed dressing and stir until combined. Toss with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for 2 hours minimum. Serve over greens or straight from the bowl!


29 Comments ( Reply )

  1. holly (the healthy everythingtarian)
    May 04, 2010 @ 8:41 am

    i cannot even tell you how much i miss lunds/byerlys. their deli is my fave. and i LOVE the simplicity of this dish – the perfect salad for a summer picnic!

    can you tell i am ready for some HOT weather?

    hope you are well dear – love ya!

    Reply

  2. holly (the healthy everythingtarian)
    May 04, 2010 @ 8:41 am

    i cannot even tell you how much i miss lunds/byerlys. their deli is my fave. and i LOVE the simplicity of this dish – the perfect salad for a summer picnic!

    can you tell i am ready for some HOT weather?

    hope you are well dear – love ya!

    Reply

  3. Mo@MommyRD
    May 04, 2010 @ 10:23 am

    I miss shopping at Byerly’s.

    Now, you are only adding to my ‘to try’ list. BTW, I made your rhubarb strawberry crostini and avocado lime coleslaw over the weekend. Blog post coming soon – they were great!

    Reply

  4. Mo@MommyRD
    May 04, 2010 @ 10:23 am

    I miss shopping at Byerly’s.

    Now, you are only adding to my ‘to try’ list. BTW, I made your rhubarb strawberry crostini and avocado lime coleslaw over the weekend. Blog post coming soon – they were great!

    Reply

  5. Mary Beth Hughes
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    I can say first hand that this re-worked cherry chicken salad was delicious!

    Reply

    • Anna
      May 05, 2010 @ 8:33 am

      I agree with Mary Beth! It was very good!

      Reply

  6. Mary Beth Hughes
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    I can say first hand that this re-worked cherry chicken salad was delicious!

    Reply

    • Anna
      May 05, 2010 @ 8:33 am

      I agree with Mary Beth! It was very good!

      Reply

  7. catherine (FOOD SNOB)
    May 04, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

    You’re torturing me! Chicken salad might be the only meat food that I really miss . . . add cherries, and that’s practically irresistable!

    Reply

  8. catherine (FOOD SNOB)
    May 04, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

    You’re torturing me! Chicken salad might be the only meat food that I really miss . . . add cherries, and that’s practically irresistable!

    Reply

  9. Kate
    May 04, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

    we sell something similar in the deli case at my lovely little coffee shop :) i havent tried and dont think i will as yours looks WAY better!

    Reply

  10. Kate
    May 04, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

    we sell something similar in the deli case at my lovely little coffee shop :) i havent tried and dont think i will as yours looks WAY better!

    Reply

  11. thehealthyjunky
    May 04, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

    This sounds like such a great alternative. I love dried cherries in all my foods!

    Reply

  12. thehealthyjunky
    May 04, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

    This sounds like such a great alternative. I love dried cherries in all my foods!

    Reply

  13. Dawn (HealthySDLiving)
    May 04, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

    Mmmmm this looks great! I love the cranberries in there!

    Reply

  14. Dawn (HealthySDLiving)
    May 04, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

    Mmmmm this looks great! I love the cranberries in there!

    Reply

  15. Lori
    May 04, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

    I’m definitely going to try this with some chicken leftovers. I’m always adding cranberries to my chicken/tuna salads. The cherries are a nice change.

    Reply

  16. Lori
    May 04, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

    I’m definitely going to try this with some chicken leftovers. I’m always adding cranberries to my chicken/tuna salads. The cherries are a nice change.

    Reply

  17. Erika (Dr.TriRunner)
    May 04, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    I LOVE Lunds/Byerlys. And their restaurant!! And now that I’m eating meat again….! ;)

    I need someone to show me how to cook chicken though… I’ve obviously never had to before, and my first attempt the other day was a major FAIL.

    Reply

  18. Erika (Dr.TriRunner)
    May 04, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    I LOVE Lunds/Byerlys. And their restaurant!! And now that I’m eating meat again….! ;)

    I need someone to show me how to cook chicken though… I’ve obviously never had to before, and my first attempt the other day was a major FAIL.

    Reply

  19. Sagan
    May 04, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

    Delish- I love the addition of dried cherries!

    Reply

  20. Sagan
    May 04, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

    Delish- I love the addition of dried cherries!

    Reply

  21. cozydelicious
    May 04, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

    Yum! This looks amazing. I love Brianna’s dressings. And what a great idea to add dried cherries. This is the perfect take-to-work lunch.

    Reply

  22. cozydelicious
    May 04, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

    Yum! This looks amazing. I love Brianna’s dressings. And what a great idea to add dried cherries. This is the perfect take-to-work lunch.

    Reply

  23. Nicole @ Making Good Choices
    May 04, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

    This looks like a perfect lunch or dinner. It looks so filling with a perfect amount of healthy pasta to fill you up!

    Reply

  24. Nicole @ Making Good Choices
    May 04, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

    This looks like a perfect lunch or dinner. It looks so filling with a perfect amount of healthy pasta to fill you up!

    Reply

  25. Julie @ Pickley Pear
    May 04, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

    Deli salads are the best! I always try to make them myself, but for some reason they just never quite taste as great (without the fat). I love cherries!!

    Reply

  26. Julie @ Pickley Pear
    May 04, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

    Deli salads are the best! I always try to make them myself, but for some reason they just never quite taste as great (without the fat). I love cherries!!

    Reply

  27. Raven
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

    I went on a blind date to the Twin Cities area from California and was greeted with a picnic that included this pasta salad. I was hooked!! On the salad, not so much on the date.
    I tracked down the recipe from the store and am frequently requested to make it for potlucks at the office. I’ve tried other dressings, but Brianna’s can not be topped for this dish.
    Thank you for sharing
    R~

    Reply

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