Mandarin Spinach Bowtie Pasta Salad with Teriyaki Dressing

The perfect side dish OR main dish, this mandarin spinach bowtie pasta salad with teriyaki dressing is so light and refreshing…and that dressing is amazing!

Pouring teriyaki dressing over bowtie pasta salad.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine emailed me a recipe for a salad she had tried at a baby shower; she couldn’t stop raving about it.

Well, of course with that recommendation, I had to try it ASAP. And it was amazing. Like, one of the best salads in the history of ever.

While I was making it (and taste testing along the way, of course), a niggling food memory kept bugging me, but I was too tired to place why the salad was so familiar until a bit of late night research led me to realize I had posted an identical recipe way back in 2009-ish.

I guess that’s what over 10 years of blogging (and turning 40) will do to you. You forget all the things. And now, of course, I’m left lying awake (and perusing my own recipe index) all night wondering what other life changing recipes I’ve forgotten about in the archives of this blog!

Bowtie pasta salad with teriyaki dressing in large white bowl.

Instead of scrapping the intent to post this most deliciously amazing salad, I decided to use the opportunity to update that old post!

I figured if I had mostly forgotten about the life-changing mandarin spinach bowtie pasta salad with teriyaki dressing, chances are many of you had too.

Judging by the mouthful of a name, this salad has a lot going on. It’s actually really simple to throw together, and I promise it is worth it.

The flavors are so tasty and combined with the crunch factor and multitude of textures, you have one showstopper of a salad.

Bowtie pasta salad dished up on white plate.

This salad is perfect for events like the above mentioned baby shower. Potlucks? It’s perfect.

But it also makes a great weeknight meal. You basically have your protein, fruits, veggies and carbs gathered together in one bowl just waiting for you to dig in.

It’s obviously been years since I’ve made this (hence the memory loss), but I wasn’t the only one who had forgotten, and subsequently missed, the deliciousness.

Brian couldn’t stop raving about this salad when we ate it for dinner. And the next night when my 6-year old requested boxed mac and cheese for her birthday dinner, he and I both slyly and strategically loaded our plates up with the leftovers of this salad, selflessly taking one for the team and leaving the boxed mac for the kids. 🙂

This is definitely one of those “can’t get enough” salads. That teriyaki dressing is out of this world delicious (and bonus: I’ve learned it works amazing magic as a chicken marinade).

Bowtie pasta salad with teriyaki dressing in large white bowl.

If you’ve made and loved the old archived version of this recipe on my site, don’t panic about the changes! All I’ve really done with the updated version is cut the dressing amounts down to serve a moderate crowd. And I’ve listed the original dressing in the notes of the recipe.

I’ve also adjusted the salad ingredient amounts to be more moderate as well. You can easily double the recipe to feed a crowd or for a giant potluck!

My favorite way to add more flavor to the salad is to brush some of the teriyaki sauce (or assembled teriyaki dressing) onto boneless, skinless chicken breasts and grill them up.

So, so good. But you can easily use precooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken works great or this simple, shredded chicken “recipe”) and toss the pieces with some of the teriyaki dressing or bottled sauce.

This is a must-make salad! I honestly love everything about it.

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Mandarin Spinach Bowtie Pasta Salad with Teriyaki Dressing

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Ingredients:

Teriyaki Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup neutral flavored oil, like vegetable, canola or avocado
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce (see note)
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • Pinch of black pepper

Salad:

  • 8 ounces bowtie pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 4 packed cups)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup (about 4-6 ounces) craisins
  • 2 cans (11-ounces each) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and slivered
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup (3-4 ounces) roasted cashews or honey roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken, tossed with 2-3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (see note)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar, cap with a lid, and shake until well combined (alternately, you can whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until mixed or use a blender).
  2. Combine all the salad ingredients except the sesame seeds in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and lightly toss. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately (if anticipating leftovers, consider adding dressing to individual portions instead of the salad as a whole so the spinach doesn’t get soggy and wilted for leftovers).

Notes:

If you are looking for the original dressing ingredients/amounts included in the first version of this recipe (posted in 2009), here they are: 1 cup canola oil, 1/3 to 2/3 cup bottled teriyaki sauce, 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, 6 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. The original salad ingredients: 16 ounces pasta, 9-10 ounces spinach, 6 ounces craisins, 2 cans mandarin oranges, 1 can water chestnuts, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 4 green onions, 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, 6 ounces honey roasted peanuts, 2 cups cooked chicken.

For the chicken in this recipe, I usually either use cooked chicken tossed in a bit of the teriyaki sauce (rotisserie chicken works great here!) or I brush boneless, skinless chicken breasts with teriyaki sauce and grill them – yum!

There are a lot of storebought, bottled teriyaki brands available. My recommendation is to use one that you like the flavor of (I recently used the Panda Express mandarin teriyaki sauce, and it was tasty). I also love this homemade teriyaki sauce (although I haven’t tried it for this salad yet).

All images and text ©.

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Recipe Source: originally given to me by my friend, Judy C., and later sent to me by my friend, Deb (after I had forgotten about the original!)
Recipe originally posted Nov. 2009; updated with new pictures, recipe notes, etc.

Spinach Chicken & Pasta Salad with Teriyaki Vinaigrette