Classic Chicken Cordon Bleu inspired this delicious chicken pasta salad, complete with all the flavors of the original – it’s a perfect summer side dish for any picnic, party, or BBQ!
With the end of August here, summer is finally drawing to a close. In spite of my distaste for hot weather and sunburns, I’m finding myself wishing I’d spent more time outdoors in the last few months, fighting off the heat and mosquitoes to enjoy the company of my friends and family.
And of course, some incredible grilled food, paired with a couple of my favorite summer wines.
Thankfully, I’ve got one more chance to bid summer farewell – and a Labor Day picnic sounds like a perfect celebration!
What are your plans for the long weekend? If they happen to involve food, how about instead of hauling a generic pasta or potato salad to your celebration, you surprise everyone with this snazzy Cordon Bleu Chicken Pasta Salad? It’s everything you love about the famous chicken dish, complete with a side of broccoli mixed right in!
I distinctly remember the last picnic I was on, even though it was about nine years ago.
Mr. Crumby and I were still a new couple, completely enamored with each other and regularly shunning everyone else in our lives in favor of one-on-one time with one another. Neither of us are particularly proud of that fact, but I wouldn’t change a thing about our early relationship.
During our getting-to-know-you relationship stage, we discovered our mutual love of St. Augustine. One day in early September, we drove the forty-five minutes route to spend the day, complete with a packed picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds outside the Castillo de San Marcos.
We sat under a scraggly tree, and had to continuously move around the base of it to stay in the shade as the sun moved across the afternoon sky. We ate slightly soggy tuna sandwiches, and a fruit salad that was way too big for two people. We drank iced tea that was a little too warm, in spite of the cold packs we packed around it for the trip. We had to share a cupcake, because I’m clumsy and dropped mine in the dirt.
And the kicker of the day – a bird pooped on my shoulder.
Kind of disgusting, yes, but that picnic date is one of my favorite memories of “us” and our fresh love. We talked, we laughed until we cried, and we totally fell head over heels for each other that day. Walking down the streets of St. Augustine today, still hand-in-hand over nine years later, fills me with joy, and not just because the city is full of charm.
They say having a bird poop on you is lucky anyway, right?
Picnics and patriotic holidays are a perfect pair, and I think it’s high time I planned another one. Labor Day is a holiday observed by over eighty countries worldwide, and, while different everywhere, the idea at the heart of it is the celebration of the laborers that helped put and continue to keep the country together.
In America, it’s the last excuse of the year for us to get together and enjoy a great Monday off work, eat BBQ, drink beer, and annoy our neighbors with sparkly explosives.
It’s also the official end of summer, with school back in session and family vacations being safely tucked away in photo albums.
For me, it’s a workday – food retail rests for no one, and someone has to be there to provide everything you all need for your parties! But you can bet that, after my work is done, I’ll be hitting a party of my own, with a big bowl of this pasta salad and a few bottles of Gallo Family wine in tow!
I managed to work every delicious detail you find in Cordon Bleu into this chicken pasta salad! From the breadcrumb-studded chicken, to the melty cheese sauce, to a side of broccoli florets, this pasta salad has it all, and you don’t need a knife to eat it! It’s a fantastic, unique recipe that demands to be enjoyed outside, preferably by a body of water, with a glass of wine in hand.
When it comes to pairing wines with the recipes I create, I’m still trying to master remembering a lot of the details – the life of a sommelier, while impressive, is not for me.
I used to just drink whatever wine I had on hand, but now I know that a dish like this will sing when paired with a light, fruity white blend or Pinot Grigio.
More easy pasta recipes to try!
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Cordon Bleu Chicken Pasta Salad
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni or rotini
- 1 cooked ham steak cubed
- 2 cups Swiss or Havarti cheese cubed
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- Pinch sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- ½ cup light mayonnaise optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside.
- Cube raw chicken breasts and place in a bowl; set aside.
- Place flour & paprika, and bread crumbs in two separate bowls. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.
- Working in batches, roll cubed chicken in flour, then dredge in egg wash, then coat with bread crumbs and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake chicken for 15-20 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked and browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
- While chicken is cooking, prep ham & cheese cubes, and broccoli. Place in a large bowl.
- Boil pasta according to box directions. Drain, rinse, and place boiled pasta in the bowl with the other ingredients. Add chicken to bowl and toss everything.
- In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, whisking continuously for 1-2 minutes until a roux is formed.
- Slowly add the milk, whisking until incorporated. Stir in bouillon , salt, and pepper, and drop heat to medium-low and allow to simmer 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally but allowing it to thicken slightly.
- Remove sauce from heat. Quickly add Dijon, Worcestershire, Parmesan, and mayonnaise (if desired), whisking briskly to melt cheese and combine ingredients.
- Pour sauce over everything in the bowl, tossing to coat and combine.