Cookbook Profile

Mesquite-Grilled Pasta Salad
with Chicken, Peaches, and Cashews

Makes 4 servings

There's comfort in the fact that you can feed your family and friends a delicious and healthy entrée in less than 30 minutes. Grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts as "paillards," or pieces with the same thickness throughout, gets them done in a flash. The combination of smoky, sweet, tart, mellow, and crunchy in this pasta salad is simply wonderful. To get the mesquite flavor, either throw a handful of soaked mesquite chips or dry mesquite pellets onto a charcoal fire (made with mesquite charcoal, preferably) right before grilling, or prepare an aluminum foil packet with holes punched in the top, containing dry mesquite chips or pellets, and place on the grill rack above a gas fire.

2 large red onions, sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
Olive oil for brushing
Fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 large, ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 cup roasted salted cashews
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup mesquite wood chips or 1/3 cup mesquite wood pellets (see above)

Prepare a hot fire in your grill. For a gas grill, immediately place the packet of dry chips or pellets on the grill grate toward the back of the grill and close the lid. The chips will begin to smoke after 20 minutes. For a charcoal fire, sprinkle moistened wood chips on the hot coals right before grilling.

Brush the onions and chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken and onions on a doubled baking sheet to take out to the grill.

Grill the onions on a perforated grill rack, turning once, until softened and slightly charred, about 10 minutes total. Toward the end of that time, grill the chicken breasts, turning once, for 5 minutes total. Place the cooked food on the clean baking sheet to bring inside.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta, peaches, cashews, and cilantro together. Cut the grilled chicken breasts into small pieces and toss them with the pasta mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss again to blend. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Buy the Book!


Weeknight Grilling with the BBQ Queens
Making Meals Fast and Fabulous

by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig
Harvard Common Press
Photography: Kirsten Shultz
$29.95; Hardcover
ISBN: 1-55832-313-9
$14.95; Trade paperback
ISBN: 1-55832-314-7
Recipe reprinted by permission.


Weeknight Grilling with the BBQ Queens



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This page created June 2006