Nutty Pesto Chicken Salad

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Topic by justjoel posted 02-09-2011 01:57 AM 1812 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1063 posts in 3223 days
hardiness zone 7a

02-09-2011 01:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: recipe pesto salad chicken

Years ago, before I ever had a garden of my own, my parents came for visits when we lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. Rather than flying, they usually drove down from Vancouver, Washington, and would bring along a full ice chest and other provisions for lunch on the road. Packed in the ice chest was usually a container or two of mom’s pesto, which she would leave for us when they returned home.

One time when I made my usual (but good) chicken salad, I thought I’d add what was left of the pesto, and I was hooked from then on. At the time, I was the Restaurant Manager at a nice resort in Scottsdale, and was so thrilled with my creation that I took a sample in to our Executive Chef. He seemed impressed but never, to my knowledge, added it to any menu (while I was still there that is). A friend in my new(er) home here in Reno, who does some catering on the side, recently tried a batch made with the last of my own (first-time) pesto while at a large pot-luck wedding reception for some dear friends of ours at the theater we are involved in (so, yeah, bunch of hippies) – but anyway, my friend said that my chicken salad was the best thing on the table.

If you have a favorite way to make your own chicken salad, I encourage you to try adding some pesto to it, if it seems to fit. If you don’t, please give my recipe a try. The amounts in the recipe are “at-leasts” or “to taste” for the most part, since I’ve never really measured things as I’ve made this, but I think I’m pretty close (fairly good eye-judge on measurements of all sorts, though have never won any “guess-how-many-jelly-beans-are-in-the-jar contests).

1 ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (with rib meat is fine)
½ cup cashews halves and pieces
1 cup chopped celery (about cashew sized pieces or smaller)
1/3 cup of finely chopped green onion
¼ cup of finely chopped pecans
½ cup mayonnaise
dash of Dijon, brown, or sweet-n-spicy mustard
1/3 cup pesto

I season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then bake it wrapped tightly in foil (or in a glass dish with a lid) for about a half an hour. Once the chicken is cooked through, but not overcooked, and then it has cooled enough to handle, I like to shred it by hand into smallish, slightly irregular pieces. I prefer this way over waiting until it is fully chilled or dicing it, as I find it affects the texture of the salad as a whole, which to me is a hugely important part of any salad.

Once the chicken is cooled completely, but not yet cold, I fold together the rest of the ingredients except for the pesto; I find the pesto blends better after the mayo has coated everything else. If I made the chicken salad without the pesto, then I would have seasoned it more, but I’ve found that the pesto, mixed with the rest of the ensemble, has enough saltiness and other seasonings without having to add any others.
I’ve also found that this is one of those dishes that needs to set a while (maybe even over-night) before it is at its best, like good chili or marinara, but is just fine to serve immediately. I’ve always used breads or crackers and the like, and it’s fantastic on a croissant, but it should be great with homegrown greens of your choice and wedges of your favorite, fresh picked tomato (I mean, heck, ya’ll are a bunch of crazy gardeners, aren’t ya?).

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View Greenthumb's profile


2290 posts in 3663 days

02-09-2011 02:43 AM


one very important room mate, will eat “chicken” only

since then, I have eaten “chicken” only

These west coast chicken eaters have long since forgotten that beef is in…......n chicken gets to be a boring substitute?............sorry, but I raised them, sold them, BBQd them and albeit, if hunger sets in, they still taste good so heres a glass to anything but….......chicken. Cattle are good for a forest and a garden, so are sheep but those nasty birds…..........BBQ, wings, and lunch meat

I’m sick of chicken, chicken, more chicken, chicken thighs, chicken wings, chicken breasts, chicken, chicken and more chicken. Chicken chili, chicken spagetti, chicken lasagna, chicken pizza, chicken on a stick, chicken pounded, grated, sliced and diced and albeit I love every bite I do miss ….....beef, ba ba ba lamb too.

I should have been born in texas?

stir fried rabbit should be on the menu around here, so should venison.

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View Greenthumb's profile


2290 posts in 3663 days

02-09-2011 02:46 AM

emergency food

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View justjoel's profile


1063 posts in 3223 days
hardiness zone 7a

02-09-2011 03:08 AM

Hey, my father-in-law is a cattle buyer here on the west coast, so I should have guilt spreading the gospel of poultry, but alas, I’m a sinner and I live with it. The only other thing I can think to say to you, Greenie, is, “get over it?” But maybe that’s a bit too harsh, yes?, not having eaten at your fine, feathered table.

Suppose you don’t want to hear about my chickent/bacon/pesto pizza, then, eh?

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View MsDebbieP's profile


14694 posts in 3843 days
hardiness zone 5b

02-09-2011 04:02 AM

that does sound yummy—- even after the image of the non-ending chicken fare painted by Gr.Thumb. :)

So I wonder if you can substitute some pulled pork in the same recipe. What do you think, GreenThumb? :)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View jroot's profile


5121 posts in 3473 days
hardiness zone 5a

02-09-2011 09:27 AM

sounds good. especially with the addition of the bacon.

Oh, my cholesterol !

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Gone_Tropical's profile


510 posts in 2556 days
hardiness zone 9b

02-10-2011 06:54 AM

that chicken salad sounds yummy…. but I love everything with mustard :D

-- Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Gone Tropical Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

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