Recipe: Spinach Pesto Chicken Salad

Spinach Pesto Chicken Salad

When I travel I rarely go do the touristy things. My way of visiting a city involves finding a local bookstore, eating pastry, and finding some wonderful little restaurant to try. The only problem with this approach is when I find something absolutely craveable that I’m never going to be near again. That’s when I have to do my best to recreate it, often bumping up my favorite parts of the dish in the process.

That’s what happened with this spinach pesto chicken salad sandwich. It’s something I ate and loved, but the version I ordered wasn’t this shocking neon green. That was my own addition as I ramped up the amount of pesto in the salad to make something really bold and unique, while also being as traditional as chicken salad. Served on really good rolls I could eat these until my skin took on the color of that sandwich.

Spinach Pesto Chicken Salad

1/2 C apple
2 C cooked chicken
3/4 C mayo
3/4 C spinach pesto

Spinach Pesto

1 bunch spinach
1/2 C basil
1/2 C olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic

Start by making up the spinach pesto. Just toss all of this in a blender, and blend until velvety smooth. You can add some water if it’s too thick to blend. Set aside the 3/4 cup you’ll need for the salad and you can freeze the rest or toss it in the fridge for tomorrow’s pasta.

For a dish requiring cooked chicken I often cheat and buy a rotiserree chicken from the grocery store. Those things are so dang good, and that makes two meals out of one. If you’re cooking chicken for this recipe, my favorite method is to poach it in flavored broth or liquid at a low, slow, heat. Chop or shred the meat, chop the apple, toss together with mayo and the pesto, and serve on a big soft roll. Delicious.

I made these for dinner one night and made up too many sandwiches, so I wrapped it up tight in saran wrap and put it in the fridge. If you use a roll instead of bread it can hold up to storage that way really well. My friend Regina was over the next day canning salsa and when I realized we didn’t have time to eat before picking up kids I just grabbed these right out of the fridge and sent her on her way with a treat.