Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Chicken and Cucumber Salad with Parsley Pesto

This is a quick, easy, healthy, and tasty weeknight salad that I recently adapted from a Cooking Light magazine and I've made this recipe a few times now. Use this as starting point and tweak it to your liking.

I made a number of changes to the original recipe. But we picked this recipe to try because of one ingredient: roasted garbanzo beans!

Now the concept of roasting garbanzo beans is a new to us. We like them and there are always a few cans in the pantry. But roasting these things turns them into something dangerously addictive (in a good way!). They are THAT good. Suddenly, they are tasty nuggets that are meaty and chewy. They are utterly transformed and vastly improved. It's an amazing transformation.

We got introduced to the concept through a Blue Apron recipe. The roasting of the garbanzo beans seemed like an unnecessary step but I thought I would just follow the recipe. Once they cooled enough to try one I was hooked. It was hard not to keep stealing a few as they cool. They could stand on their own as a healthy snack food.

The recipe also includes some parsley pesto. I have a go-to recipe for traditional pesto with basil. I make batches of it during the summer months and then freeze them in ice cube trays to use throughout the year. I've also made pesto with other ingredients including parsley, carrot top greens, arugula, and cilantro. Parsley pesto is a nice, mild pesto and it's great to have some on hand frozen. Defrost a cube to add to eggs, fish, or chicken if you eat meat. So I have multiple bags of various types of frozen pesto cubes in the freezer at the ready.

Finally, the original recipe called for some pulled chunks of rotisserie chicken. Since we don't eat meat, we substituted Tofurky's tasty "Slow Roasted Chick'n." This has been another revelation. This chicken substitute is pretty dead on and it has opened up some new recipes for us to try.

Chicken and Cucumber Salad with Parsley Pesto

Serves 2
  • Parsley - 1 large flat leaf bunch cleaned and dried with leaves pulled off
  • Pine nuts - 1/3 cup
  • Parmesan cheese - 1 cup grated
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves minced
  • salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Chicken - 1/2 - 3/4 of an 8 oz package of Tofurky Slow Roasted Chick'n or about 4 cups of  shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Edamame - 2 cups, shelled and cooked
  • Garbanzo beans - 1 15 oz. can drained
  • English cucumber - 1, chopped
  • Arugula - 4 handfuls
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Parsley Pesto
Combine first five ingredients in a food processor bowl. While processing, slowly add olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. To preserve for the future, spoon pesto into oiled ice cube trays and freeze overnight. The next day, set out for a few minutes and then separate the cubes from the trays. Place cubes in freezer bags and store in the freezer for future use. For this recipe, use 3-4 frozen cubes of parsley pesto.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans
Drain and rinse the beans then place them in a single layer on a doubled paper towel. Cover with paper towels and let them dry completely. Transfer beans to a large bowl and add olive oil, salt, and pepper and stir to mix. Place beans in a single layer on a (parchment paper lined) cookie sheet and place in pre-heated oven for 20-22 minutes. Roll beans over halfway through the cooking time. Watch the beans closely during the last few minutes. Remove when done and let cool. 

Place the chicken (in whatever form) in a skillet with a little olive oil over medium high heat. Cook until there's a some browning on both sides.

Assemble salad
In a large mixing bowl, combine arugula, edamame, roasted garbanzo beans, and cucumber. Mix in parsley pesto and stir to coat the ingredients with the pesto (it's actually better to mix by hand to get a nice coating on everything). Drizzle with some olive oil if you think the mixture seems dry. Divide the mixture between serving plates or bowls and top with the cooked chicken. 

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