This recipe is probably at the top of the list of favorite recipes for me and Rob. Its got good flavor, is light, and best of all packs well! That last one is really important because, for years now, this has been our go to picnic food. I am not even sure how many times we have made this recipe, but it makes for a great weekend lunch, picnic main, or packable workday lunch!
For Memorial Day weekend, we went to a place in the DC area called Wolf Trap. It’s a national park that focuses on performing arts and every year the Marine Corps Band does a free concert. This was our first trip out this year and that meant a couple of containers of this pasta salad.
The original recipe is inspired by a pasta salad Rob would eat on trips to Williamsburg, VA as a kid. There is a sandwich place there that served something very similar. Its actually extremely simple: pasta, garlic, mint, pine nut, lemon, feta, and olive oil.
The original recipe and what we make most often is orzo based. We decided to mix this one up by going with some locally made orecchiette. We had it in the fridge and its also a really good pasta salad pasta due to its size and shape.
We also always add some grilled chicken pieces to this. We used to just used bagged, pre-cooked but it turns out just sauteing/grilling it yourself is just as easy. Plus it tastes a little better! This is really what takes this from a side to a picnic/lunch main course option.
Picnic Pasta Salad
- 1 Lb Orzo or Orecchiette
- 2 Chicken Breasts Grilled and chopped
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
- 1 Lemon zested and juiced
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 6 Mint Leaves roughly chopped
- 1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta to taste.
- Once drained and while still hot, add the chicken, olive oil, nuts, lemon, garlic, and mint to the pasta along with salt/pepper.
- Stir well to combine and add more olive oil if need to coat and prevent sticking.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Cover and refrigerate.
- Add the feta prior to serving.