Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicken Pesto Rice Salad

Chicken Pesto Rice Salad

This Chicken Pesto Rice Salad is an awesome light gluten free dish that won’t weigh you down on a summer's day.  It's a fresh bright dish that features lean chicken breast, grape tomatoes and artichoke hearts tossed in a basil walnut pesto for a salad that defies convention. 

The preparation is made easier with quick cooking Minute brown rice but if you have extra time on your hands and want to use conventional brown rice, that’s fine too. The pesto is a little different since it’s made with walnuts instead of the usual pine nuts.  I think the nuttier flavor of the walnut is a better compliment to the nuttiness of the brown rice.  Walnuts are also far more economical than their pricier coniferous cousin.  And don’t we all need to save a few bucks during these tough economic times?

Chicken Pesto Rice Salad
Prep time:  10 min
Cook time:  20 min

  •          12 oz diced chicken breast
  •          1/8 tsp garlic powder
  •          ¼ tsp paprika
  •          salt and pepper to taste
  •          14 oz can of artichoke hearts, quartered
  •          1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and halved
  •          3 cups cooked brown rice
  •          1 clove garlic
  •          ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  •          ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  •          ¼ cup flat leaf parsley
  •          1 lemon, juice and zest
  •          1/2 cup walnuts
  •          crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  •          3 tbsp olive oil

Video Tutorial:  

  1. Stir together the diced chicken, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet over a medium high heat, add the seasoned chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté stirring occasionally until it’s no longer pink and develops a golden brown color.  It will take 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.      
  3. To make the pesto add the garlic and sea salt to a mortar and pestle and crush them together until they have a paste like consistency.  Grate in the lemon zest.  Add in the parsley, basil, and lemon juice.  Continue crushing the mixture until the basil and parsley are pretty well broken down then add the walnuts and red pepper flakes.  Continue crushing the mixture until the walnut pieces are as small as you want then add the olive oil and stir it all together then set aside.
  4. Add the cooked rice to a large serving bowl.  Pour over the pesto. Add the chicken, tomatoes and artichoke hearts.  Stir everything together and serve or refrigerate and serve later. 
Notes:  For easier preparation substitute leftover cooked diced chicken breast in the recipe.  You could also use a food processor instead of the mortar and pestle to prepare the pesto more quickly.  

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