Healthy family recipe: Chicken pesto salad

Mix up your family’s salad routine with this restaurant-style recipe. This meal makes the perfect weeknight companion, because you can make the pesto and prepare the vegetables for the salad while the chicken is cooking.

If you have some extra time, encourage family involvement by giving your children age appropriate jobs in the kitchen. They can measure ingredients for the pesto, shred the chicken, or wash the lettuce.

Chicken Pesto Salad


  • 1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
  • 3 roma or plum tomatoes, washed and sliced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut in half once
  • 1 ½ cups of packed and washed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste


To prepare the chicken

  1. Fill a large pot with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add the chicken. Lower the heat to medium. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees with a food thermometer.
  2. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the water and shred the meat using two forks into bite sized pieces. Add a small drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste to the chicken and mix until coated.

To make the pesto

  1. Add basil leaves, ¼ cup of olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts to a blender or food processor. Blend for 15 seconds. Scrape the sides of the mixture to help the pesto mix evenly, and blend for another 10-15 seconds. If needed, blend again until ingredients are mixed to a paste-like consistency.
  2. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl. Mix in the parmesan cheese until fully incorporated.

Assemble the salad

For each serving, add desired amount of lettuce and tomatoes to a bowl. Top with a handful of chicken, grated parmesan, and a spoonful of pesto. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a pop of additional flavor!