Home » 07 July » Deconstructed Pesto Chicken Salad

Deconstructed Pesto Chicken Salad

I admit I am not at all a fan of the fad – now receding, she said hopefully – for deconstructed dishes. They were constructed in the first place for a reason. Are these dishes the work of chefs who were once those annoying little kids who insist that nothing on their plate touch anything else on their plate, and who pick things apart so as to eat the components separately?

Having said that… here it is.

Mind you, it isn’t the salad I’ve deconstructed here, just the pesto. I’ve made Pesto Chicken Salad before, and very good too. However, if you don’t have any pesto made up on hand, this goes together much more quickly and to very similar effect.

We eat a lot of poached chicken in the summer. You can use a little salted water to poach it, but I keep a jar of broth in the fridge for it. It just keeps getting stronger and stronger until you start to think you had better use it for something else (within 10 days, I would think) and then you start again. I believe the current batch started life as the juices drained off a batch of baked chicken thighs. I haven’t added any other salt to the salad; I’ve come to think the Parmesan adds plenty.

2 servings
15 minutes to poach chicken and a later 15 minutes to finish

Deconstructed Pesto Chicken Salad

300 grams (10 ounces) boneless poached chicken
a good handful (1/2 cup loosely packed) basil leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts OR almonds
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic
1/3 cup mayonnaise
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 to 6 lettuce leaves

Poach the chicken in a small amount of broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the poaching liquid (which can be reserved for another use) and let it cool completely. Keep refrigerated  until wanted.

Chop the cold chicken and put it in a mixing bowl.

Wash and dry the basil. Strip the leaves from the stems (discard) and chop them quite coarsely. Add them to the chicken.

Grate the Parmesan, as coarsely or finely as you like. Add to the chicken.

Peel and mince the garlic, and sprinkle it over. Add the mayonnaise and pepper, and toss until well blended.

Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and arrange them in a serving dish. Pile the salad on top and garnish with a reserved leaf or two of basil.

Last year at this time I made Argentinian Chicken (hah!) and Corn.


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