Recipe: Nutty Chicken Salad with Chardonnay

I love when a simple idea comes together to create a delicious and fairly healthy meal.  I had a roasted chicken in the fridge this week and needed to bring something to work for lunch… what came from those two separate ideas was a recipe that I will be repeating often.  Seriously, it’s *that* good.

NuttyChickenChardSalad

I started by cutting up some chicken breast – literally, I cut a portion of chicken breast off of the roasted chicken, diced it, and put it in a bowl.  I then diced two small scallions and added them to the mixture.  I emptied a mini box of raisins on top and added a handful of chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds.  The salad came together using a mixture of Miracle Whip light, a few spoons of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt, and some splashes of James River Cellars Chardonnay.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a pinch of lemon thyme and let it sit overnight (or until lunchtime, whichever works for you.  Note:  Since I still have some dried lemon thyme in the cupboard from last summer, I like to add this anytime I want just a hint of that spice in a meal. 

When plating this salad, I certainly could have used any bread I had on hand or I could have used it to top some greens, if I didn’t want the bread at all.  Since we’d just been to the store,  I had a ciabatta roll in the pantry and used that for my lunch.  I actually had enough to make my own  lunch, plus share some with a co-worker, so that was a big plus in my book.   Feel free to play with this recipe and make it your own.

Alternative ingredients?  I’m sure it would be delicious with leftover turkey (yup, already planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner leftovers), and craisins would be a fun change from the raisins I used here.  I also will plan to add some celery to this recipe, but that’s not included here since I didn’t have any when I was making this particular recipe.  If you come up with any other fun ideas, feel free to let me know what you’ve used.  I love hearing about ways others make this recipe into something their family will love.

Have fun playing with your food!

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Recipe: Wine’d Up Kale Pesto

I have a college friend who has a Paleo-focused blog that I just love.  If this sounds like something interesting to you, I would encourage you to check out her blog (MomUncorked) as she has lots of recipes, helpful hints, and thoughts on how and why to follow this lifestyle.  While this plan is not for me, I really enjoy looking through her recipes and playing with them until they become something that would better fit my family’s eating habits.

Kale Pesto

This recipe is a mash-up of a pesto recipe that my niece posted on her blog (Peanut Butter Fingers) and one that my Paleo-friend has created on her blog.  It’s a Kale Pesto that incorporates wine… James River Cellars’ Hanover White Wine to be exact.  If you don’t have access to this lovely sweet white wine, I would suggest trying a Vidal Blanc or even a Sauvignon Blanc that has a bit of residual sugar.  You don’t want to use something as sweet or bubbly as a Moscato, but a little sugar isn’t a bad thing against the bitter taste of the raw kale in this recipe.

Enough of the lead in…. let me tell you how I made this fun recipe, using actual measurements, no less!.  Using my small food processor, I popped a large handful of chopped kale into the bowl, along with a few crushed garlic cloves1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup walnuts, and 1/8 cup pine nuts and began processing everything to a fine crush.  When it began whirling around, there didn’t look to be enough kale, so I added another small handful and continued to process the pesto.   I alternated between using the pulse setting and the continual setting until all the kale and the nuts seemed uniformly crushed.

Once the pesto started looking like… well… pesto, I turned the machine to the “on” position and slowly drizzled equal amounts of olive oil and Hanover White wine until the pesto was smooth and sauce-like.  I started with the olive oil, added wine, then went back to olive oil and finished with some wine.  It was definitely a “Using the Force” sort of situation and I stopped to taste-test before deciding it was finished.  I also added some freshly ground salt and pepper, seasoning the pesto to my preferred taste.

This recipe is definitely one that I will continue to keep in my fridge. It’s just sooo versatile!  I’ve used it as a sandwich condiment (fabulous on a BLT or even a simple tomato sandwich), I’ve added it to pasta (with a little warm cooking liquid, it softens and adds so much to a side dish), and even added some cream instead of cooking liquid for a creamier pesto dish with chicken or shrimp that is really yummy.   While kale is not my first choice for a green vegetable, it has some amazingly great dietary stats that make it something worth adding to your diet if you are willing.

Want an added bit of knowledge?  If you massage your kale leaves before using them, you can remove some of the bitterness of this hearty green.  Don’t believe me?  Read this great article from the Huffington Post that explains the why, what, how, and “really??” of this cool trick.

I hope you’ll consider trying this pesto recipe… with all the benefits out there about kale, it’s worth a whirl!

“Whirl”… get it?

Have a great and healthy day!