Saturday, October 6, 2012

Basil-Almond Pesto Chicken Salad

How about a lot of flavor and NONE of the guilt?  Pesto is an incredibly versatile way to pack a lot of punch without all of the bad stuff.  Traditionally pesto contains cheese and a lot of oil; however, my version has no cheese and about half (or less) oil than traditional versions.  This recipe is a good use up for chicken you may have on hand.  It is also very healthful with a lot of veggies…but you definitely won’t feel deprived!

  • ½ Pound Orrechiete or other small pasta, cooked
  • 1 Cup Basil (packed, about 2 ounces)
  • ½ Cup Natural Almonds (reserve a couple of tablespoons)
  • ¼ Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons of water or stock
  • 1 Pound Chicken, shredded or cubed (I used grilled)
  • ½ Cup Carrot slices or 1 Large Carrot, sliced
  • 2 Large Celery Stalks, sliced
  • 4 – 6 Radishes, sliced
  • 1 Bell Pepper, diced (reserve a couple of tablespoons)
  • 3 Scallions, sliced (reserve a couple of tablespoons)
  • Mixed Greens

First, add basil, almonds, olive oil, salt, and garlic to a food processor and blend.  Use just enough water or stock to get things moving.  You want a pourable paste consistency.

Second, put the pasta, chicken, carrots, celery, radishes, bell pepper, and scallions in a large bowl.  Add the pesto to the bowl and toss to coat everything. 

Finally, put as many greens as you like on a plate and top with a generous helping of salad.  About 1 – 1 ½ Cups is usually good. Enjoy!

This meal comes together so quickly…the longest part is waiting for the pasta to cook!  I like just a little pasta so everything in the dish has a starring role, not just the pasta.  I have to say I do love veggies but they MUST have flavor or it just gets boring.  This hits all the right spots for me and I think you will agree!  If you miss the mayonnaise feel free to add it...but I feel like it's just wonderful as is!

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