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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

pesto chicken salad with bacon, tomatoes and garlic croutons

chicken bacon pesto salad

Yet another winner from my favorite new cookbook of the summer, "Raising the Salad Bar." With all the fresh basil at the farmers market, I made up a double batch of pesto for a couple different meals (the other pasta dish to follow soon). If you have a food processor, some basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil, you can make pesto in about 3 minutes (see previous post here). This recipe combines some chopped cooked chicken with a pesto + mayo dressing, then tossed with fresh tomatoes, bacon, and croutons. The book's version doesn't do it this way, but I also mixed all the ingredients with some mixed greens (the dressing coats all the lettuce surprising well, without having to add extra) for a "true" salad.

Grocery list: 2 cups cooked chicken, 1.5 cups quartered cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup pesto, 4-5 slices bacon (cooked and chopped), garlic salt, a few slices bread for croutons.

homemade croutons

You could certainly use store-bought croutons to make this recipe even faster, but homemade croutons are SO much better. They really don't take any time at all - you can cook them while you're prepping the rest of the salad. Remove the crusts from your bread, cut into bite-size pieces, and toss with a few T of olive oil and garlic salt. Either toast on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees (turning occasionally), or in a large skillet over medium heat.

pesto tomato salad ingredients

Mix the pesto and mayo together, then toss with the chicken.

chicken pesto dressing

Add to a large salad bowl with the mixed greens, and toss to coat everything with the dressing. Stir in the crumbled bacon and cherry tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.

chicken bacon crouton salad

Divide into bowls (this could make enough for 3 meal-size salads), then top with the croutons.

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