Grilled Pesto Chicken Salad

This is adapted from one of the first cookbooks I ever purchased - before I was a cook: The California Cook. This salad holds a special place in my heart as my husband once shopped for and cooked this for me after a hard work week.

Serves 4 as an entrée


For the dressing

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup pesto

For the salad

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 3 heads of romaine hearts, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces

  • 3 carrots, peeled and shredded

  • 1 small jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks

  • ¼ pound button mushrooms

  • 2 medium tomatoes, or a few handfuls of grape tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (I use my toaster oven for this: 1-2 minutes at 350°)


In a cuisinart:

  • 2 oz. fresh basil

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed

  • 1/2 t kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup Parmesan

  • Scant 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Pulse Cuinsinart until well blended, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.

With motor running, add:

1/4 cup good olive oil


Make dressing/marinade:

Prepare pesto (see recipe at right)

Combine pesto, lemon juice and olive oil to make dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Transfer to a covered pyrex container and cover with about ¼ cup of the dressing. Marinate for a minimum of 25 minutes, at room temperature, or up to 4 hours, refrigerated.

Preheat grill.

Grill chicken for about 7 minutes on one side and 5-6 minutes on the other, or until cooked thru. Transfer to a plate and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Prepare salad, arranging jicama, carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes in some design on top of the lettuce.

Cut chicken on the diagonal into strips and arrange on top of the salad.

Top with pine nuts and toss with some of the dressing, reserving the rest to serve on the side.

copyright 2008-2014 Katie Fairbank