Spicy Chicken Pasta Salad

with zucchini and fennel

We’re rolling right along with recipe number two! The #TABASCO10 Challenge is upon us and I’m already impressed at what my fellow cook-off contestants have come up with. I don’t think that this is technically a cook-off, but I’m going to go ahead and call it that, anyway. If you’re late to the game, the challenge is this: create 5 recipes using only 10 ingredients, then share those recipes over the course of 5 days. The ingredients were Tabasco sauce, chicken, eggs, mozzarella, fennel, zucchini, rice, rigatoni, ciabatta, and honey. Not bad, right? You might look at this list and think that your options are limited, but I promise, once you get a little creative, you’ll find that you’ll have a plethora of recipe ideas buzzing around in your head. I actually had a few more ideas than what I eventually ended up doing, but time is my mortal enemy and I could only do these five. What would you make with this ingredients? Our fearless leader, Stephanie from i am a food blog, has a list of all the other ~contestants~ on her blog, as well as some tasty looking Spicy Chicken Meatballs for you to make. I didn’t even think about ground chicken! Next time, next time.

spicy chicken pasta saladMaking biscuits, roof garden tomatoes from work, and rosé (because it’s always time for rosé).

This week is already flying by, and it’s actually going to be a little shorter than usual, as Kramer and I are headed on a vacation starting Friday. We’re going to take the train to Jersey, pick up a rental car (because it’s so much cheaper to rent in NJ than NY, ugh), and then drive to Washington, D.C. for one night. We still haven’t decided on where we’re going to eat dinner (or breakfast). Thoughts? After our one night in the capital, we’re picking my brother up from the train station and driving to Virginia Beach to see Kramer’s family for four glorious days at the beach. I can’t wait to drink ice cold beers in the sand. A girl can dream. The house also has a pool, so I am equally excited to drink ice cold beers while floating in some kind of tube in said pool. A girl can dream bigger. I’m also pumped to cook and grill in a different kitchen – that’s always fun, or at least that’s always fun to me. Similar to this Tabasco challenge, cooking in a new kitchen presents its own difficulties, like why doesn’t this damn place have a cheese grater? But you make do and find ways around problems, which always makes your food taste even better. If anyone has any Virginia Beach or DC recs, hit me up!

spicy chicken pasta saladspicy chicken pasta saladI’m loving these simple ingredients. It’s the end of summer and I’m pretty much done being fussy.

spicy chicken pasta saladCook your zucchini and fennel, then remove them from the pan.

spicy chicken pasta saladCook your chicken and, again, set aside.

spicy chicken pasta saladThen just toss everything together! Woo, so easy.

spicy chicken pasta saladDinner or lunch or your new favorite snack (why not) is served!

spicy chicken pasta saladspicy chicken pasta salad

Spicy Chicken Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Fennel
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
Spicy chicken tossed with rigatoni, zucchini and fennel. Perfect for a summer picnic or a weekday lunch.
  • 3-4 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup Tabasco sauce, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 2 large zucchini, halved and sliced into ½-inch half-moons
  • ½ fennel bulb, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus more for cooking
  1. Slice your chicken breasts and place them in a sealable bag or a medium-sized bowl. Pour the Tabasco sauce over the chicken and toss to coat. Cover the chicken and place it in the fridge for marinate for 1 hour, or as long as overnight.
  2. When you're ready, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in the same pot you plan to later cook your pasta in (why do more dishes). Add your zucchini and fennel, toss with ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat until the zucchini is slightly browned and the fennel is tender, about 8 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pot and place in a large bowl (whatever you plan to serve or store your pasta salad in).
  3. Add another tablespoon of oil to your pot, and add in your chicken. Cook for 8 minutes or so, over medium heat, until cooked through. Again, place your chicken in the bowl with the vegetables.
  4. Don't wipe out your pot (all of the leftover bits will add flavor to your pasta) and fill it with salted water. Bring the water to a boil, and cook your pasta according to package directions, until al dente (usually around 10-11 minutes). Drain the pasta from its water into a colander or strainer, and rinse it under cold water to stop it from cooking more.
  5. Add the pasta to the bowl with the chicken and vegetables. Pour ½ cup of olive oil over everything, add an additional pinch of kosher salt and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, and toss to combine. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. I recommend storing the pasta salad in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors come together, but it can also be served immediately. This salad will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.


5 Responses

  1. laurengrier says:

    Mmmmmm….loving this flavor combo! Also, your pictures are gorgeous!

  2. Emily says:

    Oh, so many fun places to eat in DC! To satisfy a sweet tooth, you should absolutely go to Baked and Wired. It’s near the Georgetown Waterfront, so you can sit and enjoy your treat while watching kids play in the fountains or sit along the river.

    Founding Farmers is fantastic and their cocktails are creative and amazing. You’ll need a reservation though. Red Hen is delicious. You could also brave the line at Rose’s Luxury, but given your limited time, it’s probably not worth it.

  3. Barliman says:

    Looks very tasty — you had me at spicy. And I love a good pasta salad. Enjoy your vacation!

  4. […] honey, ciabatta, rigatoni, and brown rice. So far, I’ve made fried mozzarella toast and spicy chicken pasta salad, and today I present to you this zucchini and fennel frittata with gooey mozzarella cheese. Another […]

  5. yum one of my favs this recipe. Thanks for sharing. Simon.

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