Pesto Chicken Salad

Pesto Chicken Salad
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 Chicken with Pesto. 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. Enrique had also replaced pine nuts with hazelnuts, but we used pine nuts anyway, because there’s a stash of those in our cupboard always. The nuts give pesto a structure more than taste.

Ingredients for Pesto Chicken for 4 Servings

  • 4 chicken breasts – pechugas de pollo
  • 75 g (2.5 oz) of arugula – rúcola
  • 150 g (5 oz) of parmesan cheese grated – queso parmesano rallado
  • 50 g of pine or hazelnuts – piñones o avellanas
  • 2 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • 1-2 dl (0.5-1 cups) extra virgin olive oil – aceite olive extra virgen
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra

Use sharp knife to chop arugula fine. Do not overdo it, because arugula goes bitter easily. Even though Enrique used a stick blender on the show – just don’t. Add pine or hazelnuts and garlic cloves and chop some more. When everything if finely chopped, move mixture to a bowl, grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top, season with salt, ground black pepper and about 1-2 dl of extra virgin olive oil. Yes, you have to use extra virgin. Trust us. The amount depends about 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 the chicken breasts (or you can do it the way Enrique did, slice the breasts in thin slices and use strings to tie the packet). Use 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.

Ingredients for Salad for 4 Servings

  • 75 g (2.5 oz) of arugula – rúcola
  • 50 g (2 oz) of walnuts – nueces
  • 8 cherry tomatoes – tomates cherry
  • medium-soft Spanish Machego – Manchego semicurado
  • a splash of extra virgin olive oil – aceite oliva extra virgen
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra

Leave the Machego 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 in about room temperature).

¡Buen provecho!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *