Everything you love about a refreshing and loaded California cobb salad but made heartier with pasta. This is an ideal classic main dish salad recipe to carry you through a busy week or to share with family and friends.
Spoiler alert, it was!
This may be one of my new favorite salads to make for lunches or dinner on a busy weeknight. I also think this is great for a holiday brunch or to enjoy for a BBQ or summer picnics too.
It’s filled with lots of fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and good proteins like grilled chicken, crispy bacon, and hard boiled eggs.
A truly flavorful salad that is both filling and comforting at the same time.
While you can use traditional pasta for this recipe, I went with a higher protein chickpea pasta to really get the most nutrients of this dish.
You can use whatever pasta type fits into your dietary needs or weekly meal plan (more on this below).
Below I’ve outlined all the ingredients you need for this dish, possible substitutions, and of course the perfect dressing recipe that ties this whole salad together nicely.
Be sure to read through the article for all my helpful cooking tips or jump to the recipe below and get cooking!
Love salad recipes? Check out this recipe guide for 10 healthy salad recipes you should be making now!
- Large Bowl
- Large Pot
- Small Bowl
- Knife & Cutting Board
- Rubber Spatula
Have questions about this recipe? Use the guided notes below to help answer any commonly asked questions!
What is in a California Cobb Salad?
Here are common ingredients you find in a classic cobb salad:
- Chicken Breast: While any chicken works for this recipe, I prefer grilled chicken for maximum flavor. Check out my guide to making the best grilled chicken too!
- Lettuce: A classic cobb uses romaine lettuce. While you can add romaine to this pasta salad, I liked the spicier notes in arugula and opted to use that instead. Any other salad greens can be added for some extra nutrients (or omitted entirely too).
- Cherry Tomatoes: Halve the tomatoes for this recipe (this works easier for serving). Diced plum tomatoes (seeds removed) work well here too.
- Red Onion: I like the crunch and slight sweetness of a red onion. Slice and dice it small. Swap with green onions as an alternative if you prefer.
- Bacon: Precook your bacon and let it drain on paper towel to remove excess grease. Swap with turkey bacon or ham as well if desired.
- Hard Boiled Eggs: Cook, peel, and dice up your eggs for this recipe.
- Cheese: Classic cobbs use blue cheese. Cheddar cheese, goat cheese, or even feta cheese are all great options here as well (I know blue cheese isn’t for everyone).
- Fresh Avocado: If you plan on keeping this salad for a few days in the fridge, toss your avocado slices in some lemon juice to prevent browning.
What pasta should I use for this recipe?
Any smaller pasta noodle works great for this recipe. You can use penne, bow tie pasta, or fusilli pasta (pictured). A pasta that has ridges grabs onto the dressing nicely too!
Standard dried pasta, gluten free pasta, or any other pasta type will work well here. I used the Banza brand of higher protein chickpea pasta for this recipe.
What is chickpea pasta?
Chickpea pastas hit the health food market a few years ago. I like it as an alternative to regular pasta because it is much higher protein compared to standard pasta.
I used the Banza brand (there are others out there). For a 2 oz. serving you get 20 grams of protein.
While this is a higher protein pasta and a good source of dietary fiber, it is not a low carb pasta (71 carbs per serving).
I followed the box directions for cooking the pasta in a pot of water. Cook until al dente and then drain and rinse well with cold water and set it aside.
Cobb Salad Dressing:
This dressing recipe is a simple way to tie this whole pasta salad recipe together.
Here is what you need:
- Dijon Mustard
- Mayo (or avocado mayo)
- Red Wine or Rice Wine Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper
- Chives (optional)
Simply whisk all the ingredients together and taste test. Adjust seasonings as desired.
Pour the dressing mixture over all the ingredients and fold it in until everything is evenly coated.
While I prefer to whip up this easy base dressing, I do also love a good store bought or homemade ranch dressing for this too.
Quick tips for cooking, serving, and storing:
- While in most cases rinsing your pasta is frowned upon, I do encourage you to rinse and cool your pasta noodles down for this recipe. Shake them out well in a colander and let them air dry a bit before tossing everything together.
- Need to whip this salad up faster? Use precooked store bought chicken or a rotisserie chicken for the protein base if needed.
- If using standard pasta, you may need to add a little more dressing (it naturally soaks some of it up).
- Serve in a large bowl or serving platter. Garnish with some fresh chives for color.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge. This salad keeps best within 3-5 days but is good for up to a week.
California Cobb Pasta Salad
- 8 oz Pasta I used Chickpea pasta (Banza)
- 2 cups Grilled Chicken Diced into pieces
- 1/2 cup Red Onion Diced small
- 2 Hard Boiled Eggs Chopped
- 4 slices Bacon, cooked
- 1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes Halved
- 1 Avocado Diced
- 1 cup Arugula
- 1/4 cup Blue Cheese
- 1 tsp Salt & Pepper (each)
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/3 cup Mayo
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to taste `
- 1 tbsp. Fresh Chives
- Start by boiling your pasta according to the box directions. Be sure to rinse your pasta with cold water to cool it down and keep it al dente.
- In a bowl, combine the grilled chicken, red onion, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and blue cheese.
- Add in the cooled pasta and the arugula. Season with the salt and pepper
- Combine all the ingredients together and whisk it until combined. Test taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the dressing over the salad mixture and toss and fold until it's fully mixed and enjoy!