Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Chicken Salad with Walnut Pesto

I got this recipe from The Kitchn, where it was referred to as a creamy chicken salad. I didn’t find it creamy at all, but there’s A LOT of good stuff going on in there! Walnuts, parsley, white wine vinegar, parmesan, sundried tomatoes, garlic, and a hint of mayonnaise… It was fantastic! I’ll definitely make it again. I used 6 chicken breasts, to make sure we would have several servings; I made roasted vegetables as a side (in the picture, we’ve got honey-roasted carrots, parsnips and beets with cumin and garlic). It did take a while to make, but that was the day of the Little Prince’s miraculously long nap, so it all worked out perfectly! (Note that I changed the instructions for poaching the chicken, because their way sounded like a salmonella fest to me.)

For the chicken
2 ½ - 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 breasts)
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
¼ cup dry white wine, champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar
a handful of flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pesto
2 cups packed flat-leaf parsley
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. good-quality olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 heaping Tbsp. minced sun-dried tomatoes
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish
toasted, chopped walnuts
sliced cherry tomatoes
grated or shaved parmesan

For the chicken, place the breasts in a large saucepan or braising dish and fill with enough water (or chicken stock) to cover by about an inch. Add the garlic, shallots, wine, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and let the chicken cook while you make the pesto, until the chicken reads 160 °F on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the pan and tent with foil. Set the chicken aside until cool enough to handle; slice into bite-sized cubes.

While the chicken is poaching, make the pesto. Combine the parsley, garlic, walnuts, and oil into the bowl of a food processor or heavy-duty blender and process until smooth. Add the parmesan and pulse to incorporate. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes, and a big squeeze of lemon juice. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Add cubed chicken to the bowl containing the pesto and gently toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper. Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors marry. Bring to room temperature for at least 15-20 minutes before serving. Toss with walnuts and garnish with tomatoes and a generous handful of parmesan.

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