This is THE best pasta salad I have ever had in my life. If I have to take food to a potluck or event, this is the dish I usually take. It's fast, and it's the favorite. Everyone loves it!
Secret: You MUST, if at all possible, us the "Briannas" brand of poppyseed dressing. It has the very best flavor. It's in a rounded glass bottle with a peach on the front. You'll find it in the salad dressing section, usually near the top shelf.
1 package spiral noodles (I use multi-colored)
1 bottle poppy seed dressing
2 large cans chicken breast chunks (or 1 1/2 c. cooked shredded chicken)
1 large can mandarin oranges (or 2 small cans)
1 large apple (cut into small pieces)
1 bunch grapes (cut in halves)
1 c. shredded cheese (I like the orange/white blend)
3/4 c. raisins
1/2 c. slivered almonds
*Honestly, these are just estimates. I just dump in a bunch of fruit & cheese till I think it looks good :) Sometimes it ends up being a little more than what's listed in the recipe.
Ok. So, you'll cook the noodles according to package directions. Al dente... definitely DO NOT overcook! Drain, rinse in cold water, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to noodles & stir.
Add all ingredients except cheese & stir until well mixed. Last... add cheese & mix till blended. (There is no scientific reason for adding the cheese last. I just like too, because it seems to keep the cheese from getting mushy). Refrigerate!
This pasta salad is great as left overs for a couple of days. If it seems to get a little dry, just add a small amount of poppyseed dressing or a few mandarin oranges, & it'll be great again. I've only had to do this a couple of times. Must have been weird weather or something ;)
I usually use the spiral noodles, but you can use any cute noodles that you'd like too. Shells, bowties, wavy ones, etc... Even whole grain noodles, which I have done too.
You can also add pineapple, celery chunks, craisins, etc... &/or omit any ingredient as desired.