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Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad

Adapted from the "Favorites" cookbook, A Collection of Ivory Family Recipes. This pasta salad is sweet and savory and just the right blend of pasta and greens. It is everyone's favorite pasta salad and so easy to make!

Course Dinner, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword pasta salad
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
cool time 1 hour
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 10


  • 16 oz Bowtie pasta, regular or mini size, cooked al dente and drained
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt


  • 2/3 cup vegetable, canola oil or light olive oil
  • 2/3 cup teriyaki sauce* see recipe notes
  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar or honey to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 large chicken breast halves or about 3 cups total chicken breast
  • 10-12 cups baby spinach
  • 1 6 oz bag Craisins
  • 3 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained well or two large oranges, peeled, and chopped into one inch pieces
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds*
  • 1 small can honey roasted cashews or peanuts (about 2 cups)



  1. The day before serving salad, or early on the same day, marinate the chicken in a Ziplock bag or shallow dish in one cup of the teriyaki sauce. This step is optional, but the chicken will have better flavor if marinated ahead of time. 

Make Dressing:

  1. Blend dressing ingredients together in blender or food processor. Refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.

For Salad:

  1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water and 2 tablespoons salt until al dente, drain and set aside. 

  2. Mix about 1 cup of dressing and the cooked pasta in medium bowl and marinate for two hours in refrigerator. Meanwhile, prepare remaining salad ingredients. If you prefer the pasta to have a lighter color, do not marinate, just toss with a little olive or canola oil after cooking and refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. Cook the marinated chicken in oven or on bbq grill. Let cool and slice. 

Assemble Salad:

  1. Gently combine remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl, reserving a few of each of the ingredients for on top of the salad.

  2. Toss the salad ingredients with about 1/2 cup of dressing, add pasta and toss gently.

  3. Place the pasta salad on a serving platter or in a large bowl, top the salad with the reserved ingredients, drizzle with additional dressing and sprinkle with nuts just before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • I like to marinate the chicken in about 1 cup of teriyaki sauce overnight  or for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Drain the chicken and discard the sauce. Broil the chicken for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before adding to salad.
  • Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki is my favorite pre made teriyaki sauce.  It can be found on Amazon, or at most grocery stores. Usually in the Asian section. Trader Joe's carries their own store brand  "Soyaki" which also works well!  If using Soy Vay or Trader Joe's Soyaki, reduce the amount of teriyaki sauce to 1/3 cup.  The Soy Vay brand is very thick and concentrated so less is needed. Make sure to shake the bottle well before using, the sesame seeds tend to float to the top of the bottle. 
  • This salad may also be made a day or two ahead of serving. Cook the pasta and chicken and store in separate Ziplock bags in refrigerator. Make dressing and refrigerate as well. Chop all of the following: green onions, parsley, cucumbers and place in separate containers or bags. Drain the mandarin oranges and place in bag. When ready to serve, assemble as directed. 
  • This recipe was originally written with the use of water chestnuts. I usually add a cucumber for crunch instead of water chestnuts, which are more costly and often difficult to find. Make sure to seed the cucumber to keep extra moisture out of the salad.