Chicken Salad with Roasted Bell Pepper in Avocado Cups
Here is one of my new favorite lunch time salads. Since going Paleo, a little over a month now, I find myself in the kitchen a lot during the weekends planning my lunches for the week. Of course towards the end of the week the cabinets are a bit bare and the only option left is a spinach salad, you know the typical salad…great but boring! I needed a little change this week which meant I needed several lunch options to avoid the spinach salad come Thursday and Friday. This weekend I got in the kitchen and got creative. For example, this salad came about by looking in my refrigerator to see what I had and what I could make. Sometimes these can be a hit or a miss. Luckily in the case of this chicken salad it was a hit. The roasted peppers add a slight sweetness to the salad and the almonds add a slight crunch. The best of both worlds. The dressing I adapted from my Chicken Salad with Peas and Herb Vinaigrette, one of my first recipes on the blog, but I changed it up to make it Paleo. So no honey, no rice vinegar, no honey mustard, etc. The dressing turned out great and it was the perfect balance with the other ingredients in the salad. For a fun idea to serve the chicken salad, you can cut an avocado in half removing the pit and place a scoop of salad carefully in the hole where the pit was. I saw this idea in the Food Network magazine a few months ago and knew I had to try it. Yum! Of course that is totally optional. I have also made “wraps” out of the salad by wrapping it in lettuce leaves. Another option to enjoy the salad. I have to say this was meant for this weeks lunch but I found it hard not to eat the whole thing this weekend. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!
And just a note to all those that were in the path of Irene this weekend. I hope you and your family weathered it out ok and there wasn’t too much damage to your homes and towns. It was hard seeing some of the images over the weekend as I know first hand what a hurricane/tropical storm can be like. Thoughts are with you all!
Chicken Salad with Roasted Bell Peppers in Avocado Cups
4 skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)
4 bay leaves
1 quart organic low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth (or half of each, which I did here)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted, roasted almonds, finely chopped
1/2 large red onion, diced
1/2 a bunch asparagus, roasted and diced into small pieces**
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 roasted bell peppers (red or yellow peppers), skin removed and diced (recipe below)*
salt and pepper to taste
Mustard Herb Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh parsley, tightly packed
1/3 cup fresh basil, tightly packed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon gluten-free Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste
*To Roast Bell Peppers:
Preheat oven to 45o degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with coconut oil, set aside. Cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds and innards. Place them on a baking sheet skin side up. Bake peppers for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the skins are brownish-black, remove from the oven and immediately place the peppers in a large ziploc bag. Close and let sit for 20 minutes or so (or until the peppers have time to cool and “sweat”). Once they have cooled you will be able to peel the skins right off. What you will have left is a moist, wonderfully cooked pepper. Yummy!
**To roast asparagus, toss asaragus in a little olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on size of asparagus, while bell peppers roast. Remove and allow to cool before cutting into small pieces.
For Chicken Salad:
Put the bay leaves and the chicken broth in a large pot with a lid and bring stock to a simmer. Add the chicken breasts to the pot. Return the broth to a simmer. Cover the pot. Turn off the heat. Let the chicken steep in the stock for 30 minutes to an hour.
While the chicken is cooking, chop the other ingredients – garlic, almonds, onion, asparagus, basil, parsley, roasted bell peppers – and add to a large bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
When the chicken breasts are cooked, remove them from the broth and let them cool. When they are cool enough to handle, shred the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces by hand. Mix the chicken pieces in with the rest of the ingredients.
To Make Dressing:
In the bowl of a food processor combine parsley, basil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt. While food processor is running slowly add olive oil in a small drizzle. You may have to stop the food processor to scrape the sides. You want the mixture to come to a liquid consistency. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.
Add dressing to chicken salad and toss to combine.
Serve chilled or at room temperature. Or inside a halved avocado. Take an avocado, remove pit, and place chicken salad in the inside.
Makes about 6 to 8 servings of salad