Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

By: Cassy Joy

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Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad is the perfect way to change up your lunches with juicy chicken breast and flavor-packed roasted garlic pesto!

When you jump into a new detox, nutrition challenge, or diet, it’s pretty easy to stick with the same foods, same meals, over …and over again.

I completely understand why, too. If the nutrition principals of the program you’re following are new or different from your norm, it can be exhausting to freely dream up variety when you’re constantly checking the food boundaries.

As much as I’m an advocate for variety, I’m guilty of this too. My autopilot (not-so-well-informed) meals when I first started Paleo over 3 years ago were the following:

Breakfast: 1-cup egg whites, 3 pieces pre-cooked bacon, 1 cup strawberries, 1 tablespoon almond butter

AM Snack: 2 ounces cold turkey meat, ½ cup strawberries, 1 cup cucumber, 1 tablespoon almonds

Lunch: 6 ounces chicken over mixed greens, carrots, and tomatoes

PM Snack: 2 ounces cold turkey meat, ½ cup strawberries, 1 cup cucumber, 1 tablespoon almonds

Dinner: 6 ounces chicken, ½ cup steamed sweet potato, 1 cup steamed broccoli

Dessert: banana with almond butter smear

I only drank water, tea, and black coffee.

That’s what I ate every single day for about 4 months. Blah.

It was only a short matter of time before I decided I would dedicate myself to variety. I dedicated myself to being a student of the clean/Paleo nutrition principals, exploring all the food possibilities within, and then that I’d share it with the world. (That’s you!)

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

This paleo chicken pesto salad is one of those dishes that helps you forget about your detox, challenge, or diet. Go ahead and put your mind at ease about “healthy fats,” “what nuts are approved,” or if it’s got “good or bad carbs.” I’ve done the work for you. It’s got everything you’re looking for AND it’s crazy delicious.

The pesto used is none other than my famous Roasted Garlic Paleo Pesto. It makes this dish SING. My non-detoxing family couldn’t keep their forks out of it.

For extra handiness, you can even get a good dose of your daily leafy greens by using green chard for a wrap!

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

If you’ve been following my 21-DSD log, you’ve probably seen this meal pop up a few times. I’ve been enjoying the leftovers on a bed of lightly steamed shredded green chard. It’s so good I want to make another batch right now.

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

The salad starts with good ol’ fashioned chicken breasts. Feel free to use whatever cut of chicken you like. My cooking instructions will be for the breasts, but you can use thighs, strips, or even a whole chicken.

chicken

I’m making a big batch here, so I’ve got 4 chicken breasts. Half the recipe if you want less. Season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper or just your favorite steak seasoning.

Pop them in the oven at 400 and bake for 30-40 minutes. When they’re done (juices running clear and the meat is white), set them aside to cool.

In the meantime, let’s make the Roasted Garlic Paleo Pesto! Check out that recipe here for the detailed instructions. I’ll give you a hint, a lot of basil is involved.

(Note: Don’t be intimidated! It’s really easy.)

paleo-chicken-pesto-salad-fed-and-fit-11
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paleo-chicken-pesto-salad-fed-and-fit-12

I also recommend you toast some extra pine nuts for when you plate the chicken salad. It’ll give the dish an extra crunch.

I doubled the pesto recipe to make enough for the 4 chicken breasts. Ta-daa! Try not to eat it all with a spoon.

If the chicken isn’t quite cool yet, you can go with the puppies to meet the passing golfers! Bet you can’t guess which one is Gus. He blends in so well.

dogs jumping on the fence

chicken

When the chicken is cooled, butterfly it like this. Then cut those into strips. Then cut those strips into cubes!

chicken sliced

diced chicken strips

Pour the chicken into a bowl. And pour your two batches of the Roasted Garlic Paleo Pesto over top.

pesto

Give it a stir, and bam! All done. Wasn’t. That. Easy. Feel free to serve it warm in a bowl and top with a few extra toasted pine nuts.

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

OR, grab some fluffy green chard.

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

And spoon some cold or warm chicken pesto salad into a leaf.

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

Roll it up and chow down!

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Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad
  • Author: Cassy
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons steak seasoning (or kosher salt + black pepper)
  • 2 batches of Roasted Garlic Paleo Pesto
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted (extra from the pesto recipe)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Lay the chicken breasts on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the steak seasoning, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until white flesh and the juices are running clear.
  3. Let the chicken cool, then cut into ½ inch cubes. Toss the chicken with the pesto and serve either warm with more toasted pine nuts or chilled in a large leafy green.
  4. Enjoy!

Paleo Chicken Pesto Salad

Comments

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  1. cathyo says:

    Sounds delish and not too difficult. Will have to try this one soon.

    1. fedandfit says:

      Hope you love it!

  2. quixotic says:

    Made this tonight – delicious! Added a little more Basil to the recipe – I maybe needed to pack it more densely. Thank you!

    1. fedandfit says:

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  3. Dawn says:

    This recipe is delicious and simple to make! I added spiraled zucchini that I blanched for a couple of minutes. It was like chicken and pasta with yummy pesto. I’m definitely making this again!

  4. Pingback: Paleo Soup Recipes – Please Enjoy this Amazingly Tasty Paleo Chicken Soup Recipe! » Paleolithic, They, Carrot, Chicken, Recipe, Curried, Name, pepperDirections1, agaveOnce, Alright » Diet
  5. Kristen says:

    I’ve been trying to think of something to make for a St. Paddy’s Day/green themed potluck at work, and then I come across this beautiful dish! Perfect! Thank you!! 🙂

  6. Hannah says:

    This sounds delicious! I am wondering how long this would stay good in the Fridge?

    Thanks!

    1. Cassy says:

      Good question, Hannah. I’d give it 5 days max.

  7. Wendy says:

    I found this recipe in Best Paleo Recipes of 2014, made it for the first time last night and had it for lunch today. It is very good! Easy to make and tasty. What’s not to love. I had it with broccoli (roasted with garlic, lemon and olive oil) and avocado slices. Yum.

    Thanks for a tasty dish!

    1. Kelly says:

      Thank you for trying it Wendy! So glad you enjoyed it and your lunch sounds so good!

  8. Can’t wait to try out this recipe tonight. All the ingredients sound delicious. As a passionate home cook, your recipes inspire me. Thank you.

  9. Aryn says:

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it. I have a silly question – I see it yields four cups. Is that four servings or is it all for one person?

    1. Cassy says:

      That would be 4 large servings, Aryn! 🙂