Pesto Chicken Salad is a wonderful lunch. It’s quick and easy to make, too!
Andalucian chef Enrique Sánchez runs a popular TV show called Cómetelo. Last week he had an interesting recipe, Pollo al pesto which can be translated to pesto chicken salad. We’re big fans of green pesto (especially with fresh pasta!), but we’ve never tried to make one from arugula. Our regular pesto recipe contains fresh basil leaves and pine nuts. My husband had also replaced pine nuts with hazelnuts, but we used pine nuts anyway because there’s always a stash of those in our cupboard. The nuts give the pesto a structure more than taste.
Easy Pesto Chicken Salad Recipe
Pesto Chicken Ingredients
- 4 medium chicken breasts
- 75 grams arugula
- 150 grams parmesan cheese grated
- 50 grams hazelnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 75 grams arugula
- 50 grams walnuts
- 8 small cherry tomatoes
- ½ pound Manchego medium-soft
- 1 splash extra virgin olive oil
- 1 dash sea salt
- 1 dash ground black pepper
Pesto Chicken Instructions
- Use a sharp knife to chop arugula fine. Do not overdo it because arugula goes bitter quickly.
- Add hazelnuts and garlic cloves and chop some more. When everything is finely chopped, move the mixture to a bowl, grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top, and season with salt, ground black pepper and about 1 to 2 dollops of extra virgin olive oil. Yes, you have to use extra virgin. Trust us. The amount depends on the pesto structure. It must be moist, but not too moist. Otherwise, it will drain from the chicken breast all over your grill. If the mixture gets too moist, grate some more parmesan – it absorbs extra oil. Mix well and check the taste.
- Butterfly your chicken breasts. Use a generous amount of pesto in between and grill the breasts on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper on both sides after grilling, and let them rest cool on the side while preparing the salad.
- Leave the Manchego to room temperature for at least 2 hours before making the salad.
- Wash and dry the arugula, slice tomatoes in half and place in a bowl. Dice the cheese into small cubes.
- Add the cheese, walnuts and some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Serve the salad with chicken breasts (which should now be at about room temperature).¡e
- Use a sharp knife to chop pesto ingredients rather than a blender. Arugula (and basil, too) go bitter in the blender.
- Extra virgin olive oil is the best for making pesto.
- Use a sharp knife to butterfly the breast.
- Use a generous amount of pesto inside the chicken breast.
- Grill the breasts for about 5 minutes on both sides on medium heat.