Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What to Eat to Beat the Heat

Pesto Chicken Salad
The calendar may not say it's officially summer yet, but here in Southern Illinois it's already hotter than fire, steamier than a sauna and I all want to eat is something light and easy, with gallons of iced tea.

This Pesto Chicken Salad was born from that desire, along with bits and pieces of leftovers from a Sonoma Goat Cheese Torte party appetizer and a Taco Salad Bar for my birthday club dinner last week. When it's too hot to cook, I just love to take my inspiration from leftovers and create something -- no cooking required.

And it's a big bonus when my frugal creations become even more satisfying than the original dishes were -- which is just how this chicken salad turned out! So simple, but oh so good!

I was a little chop happy though, and ended up with more green onion and red pepper than I needed to enhance this leftover dish, so I now have more bits and pieces to play it forward for another easy no-cook meal for tomorrow.

Are you following this? Yesterday's leftovers, today's dinner, tomorrow's inspiration. And still no hot kitchen!

I'll meet you back here tomorrow to see what becomes of leftover leftovers.

What do you do to beat the summer heat, but still have something good to eat?

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise (lite, if you like)
1/4 cup pesto (more is even better!)
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
salt & pepper to taste
Optional ingredients: toasted pine nuts, chopped almonds, chopped kalamata olives, chopped cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta, cooked chickpeas

I like to prepare several oven-roasted chicken breasts, sprinkled with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and keep them in the fridge (or freezer) to slice or chop for salads or sandwiches.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breast on foil-covered baking sheet and bake until just cooked. Remove from oven, cook and place into a ziploc back or covered container until ready to use.

Slice cooled chicken breast and then chop for chicken salad. Add chopped red pepper and green onions (and any optional ingredients - which may require more mayo and pesto.) Mix mayonnaise and pesto and add to chicken mixture. Stir to blend completely and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill in refrigerator until serving. Use for sandwiches, serve with crackers or place a scoop on a bed of salad greens.

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