A chicken salad with pesto and home roasted red peppers. It's mayo-free and packed with flavor!
Friends, this chicken salad is so scrumptious. I wish I could hand you a sample through the screen! I tested this recipe a few times because I couldn't get the chicken how I wanted it. I quickly learned that if the chicken isn't cooked like you want it then the final product will not be exactly what you want. However, once I mastered the basic chicken breasts, the rest of the recipe was a breeze! You can learn how I perfected the chicken breast and find my recipe for fool-proof tender juicy chicken by clicking here!
After I determined the best way to cook my chicken I added just TWO simple ingredients and, voila!, a delicious, tender, flavor-packed chicken salad. It's the perfect protein-packed AND flavor-packed lunch to keep you energized throughout your day.
I love chicken salads like this because they are such an easy way to get my protein at lunch. I especially appreciate this when I have had an intense resistance workout early in the morning before work. Because our bodies can only utilize about 20 - 30 grams of protein at one time for muscle building and repair, it's important to have your protein present in not only the meal following your workout but also each meal and snack throughout the day (if you're trying to build or simply maintain muscle mass for your sport, personal goals, or general health and well-being). This is a protein - packed recipe that does not disappoint! It stays tender and moist throughout the week and it keeps its flavor while passing on the higher saturated fat mayonnaise common in so many chicken salads.
This recipe usually gets me about 3 to 4 lunches, depending on how big I make my portions :). I really do make this all the time and am super excited to share it with you today! Make sure you read to the very end for ways to use this one recipe for a variety of deliciously simple meals throughout the week!
ROASTED RED PEPPER & PESTO CHICKEN SALAD
1.75 pounds raw boneless skinless chicken breast (should make about 3 cups cooked shredded)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 of a fresh lemon, cut into quarters
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 medium red bell peppers
4 tablespoons jarred pesto
1. Prepare chicken by roasting according to my Tender Juicy Oven - Baked Chicken Breasts recipe.
2. While the chicken roasts, prepare your roasted red bell peppers by following the recipe in my DIY Roasted Red Bell Pepper post!
3. Once the chicken is cooked, allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
4. Then, using two forks, shred the chicken to bite-size pieces. The chicken should still be hot and should shred easily.
5. Add the pesto to your warm chicken and toss to combine. You want the chicken to still be warm so that it really absorbs all of the flavors in the pesto. Mmmmmm :)
6. Add in your warm roasted red bell peppers.
7. And toss to combine until all ingredients are well incorporated.
8. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the refrigerator for easy lunches throughout the week!
IDEAS FOR MIXING IT UP!
I love recipes that can be incorporated numerous ways to make a variety of dishes. This recipe happens to be one of my favorites of these type of recipes. Here are all different ways you can incorporate this chicken salad to keep dishes interesting, delicious and energizing throughout the week!
Serve it on its own with whole grain crackers and a side of fruit
Warm it up (or serve immediately after preparing) and serve it over penne pasta for dinner
Keep it cold and toss in bowtie pasta for a fun picnic lunch
Serve it over a bed of spinach and add small cubes of mozzarella cheese for a Spinach Chicken Salad
Pile it between two slices of your favorite bread, add a slice of mozzarella cheese or sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the top and place in a panini press (or press it in a skillet over the stove) for a warm Italian Pesto Chicken Panini
Chicken: protein, vitamin B12
Pesto: monounsaturated fats, vitamin E
Red Bell Pepper: vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber