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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!)
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
When the chicken is cooled, butterfly it like this. Then cut those into strips. Then cut those strips into cubes!
Pour the chicken into a bowl. And pour your two batches of the Roasted Garlic Paleo Pesto over top.
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.
OR, grab some fluffy green chard.
And spoon some cold or warm chicken pesto salad into a leaf.
Roll it up and chow down!
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- 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.
- 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.