Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe for Leftover Chicken Chopped Salad with Red Pepper, Olives, and Feta

Tossing the diced chicken, red pepper, and olives with dressing gives this salad that extra something.

(This Recipe Favorite was updated with better photos May 2011.)  For many years it was considered poor form to cut lettuce, but then someone came up with the idea of chopped salad, and food history was made. Of course you don't really need a recipe to make chopped salad, but what makes this version memorable is the step of tossing the leftover chicken, chopped red pepper, and olives with some of the dressing before you add it to the salad.  If I'm not starving, I'll even let the chicken marinate in the dressing for a few minutes before I finish the salad.  This is something I've been making for years, whenever I have leftover Grilled Chicken or rotisserie chicken in the fridge.

I make my own dressing for this, and I think the combination of two vinegars, a touch of Dijon, and dried Italian herbs I use here goes perfectly with the other ingredients.  If you don't want to bother making the dressing, this would still be delicious with your favorite bottled Italian Dressing.  (If you're making it for the South Beach Diet, choose dressings that have soybean oil or olive oil and not more than 2 grams of sugar per serving.)

To make the dressing, start by mixing together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, Italian herb seasoning, Vege-sal (or salt), and pepper.  Then whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time.  If you have time, let this sit for a few minutes. 

For a lunch salad for myself, I use about a cup of diced leftover chicken.

You can use more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste, but I like about 1/4 cup diced red pepper and 1/4 cup sliced olives.  (If it's fresh tomato season you can replace the red pepper with chopped tomatoes.)

Combine those ingredients with 1-2 T of dressing and let them marinate while you prep the other ingredients (or longer, if you're not starving.)

I use about 2 handfuls of chopped romaine to make a lunch salad.  This is my baby salad spinner, a kitchen gadget I love!

When you're ready to make the salad, put lettuce in the bottom of the bowl.  You can drizzle over a bit more dressing or not, depending on how much dressing you like.

Add the marinated chicken, red peppers, and olives and sprinkle with feta cheese.  I can't imagine how many times I've had this combination for lunch.   They were definitely an investment, but I love the Fiesta 2-Quart Serving Bowl  shown in this photo, and I bought four of them especially to use for large lunch salads.

Leftover Chicken Chopped Salad with Red Pepper, Olives, and Feta
(Makes enough dressing for 10-12 salads.  Adjust salad ingredients to make as many salads as you'd like.  Recipe created by Kalyn.)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 T Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning herb blend
1/2 tsp. Vege-Sal or salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste, about 1/2 tsp.
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in bowl or glass measuring cup.   Whisk in olive oil, a little at a time until ingredients are well combined.

For each salad:
1 cup diced leftover chicken breast, cut into pieces 1/2 inch square
1/4 cup chopped red pepper, cut into pieces 1/2 inch square
1/4 cup black olives, cut in half
2 large handfuls chopped romaine lettuce
2 T crumbled Feta cheese

Make dressing and let it sit to blend flavors while you prep salad ingredients.

Chop chicken and red bell pepper and slice olives.  Put those ingredients in a small bowl and toss with 1-2 T of dressing and let it marinate while you prep other ingredients.

Chop lettuce into bite-sized pieces, wash if needed, and spin dry or dry with paper towels.  Crumble Feta cheese.

Put the chopped lettuce into a large salad bowl, adding a little more dressing if desired.  Top with the marinated chicken, chopped red pepper, and olives.  Sprinkle with crumbled Feta cheese and enjoy!

Extra dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks.  You will need to let the leftover dressing come to room temperature and shake it again each time you use it.  If you don't want to make the dressing, just use your favorite bottled Italian dressing.

South Beach Suggestions:
All the low-glycemic ingredients used in this salad make it perfect for any phase of the  South Beach Diet.  If you're using a purchased salad dressing, choose one with soybean or olive oil and not more than 2 grams of sugar per serving for South Beach.

More Tasty Ideas for Chopped Salad:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Baby Arugula Chopped Salad with Chicken, Fresh Mozzarella, and Tomatoes from Kalyn's Kitchen
Peperoncini Chopped Salad with Romaine, Red Bell Pepper, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen
Leftover Chicken Chopped Salad with Cafe Rio Style Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy Cabbage Salad with Tomatoes, Radishes, and Celery (Puerto Rican Cabbage Salad) from Kalyn's Kitchen
Israeli Chopped Salad from Cafe Liz 
Italian Chopped Salad from What's Cooking Chicago
Cobb Salad from Simply Recipes
Mexican Chopped Salad with Avocado Dressing from The Paupered Chef
Southwestern Chopped Salad from Sauce and Sensibility
Chopped Chicken Salad from Macheesmo
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. This one sounds delicious. You certainly have the touch for finding go-together flavors and textures.

  2. Kalyn, what a lovely salad. It sounds delicious and the color would brighten any table. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. Oh yes, this is my kind of salad. In fact, I think rotisserie chickens were invented for this kind of salad!

  4. Thanks Mary, having a pretty good day here since it finally quit raining!

    Lydia, sometimes I think I buy rotisserie chicken just so I can make things like this!

  5. This looks amazing! You have delicious recipes. Ill be following your blog.


  6. Looks so yummy! Can't wait to make this salad...

  7. This made for a delicious, beautiful, and easy-to-prepare dinner tonight. Thank you, Kalyn! ("Thank you" seems so inadequate, considering how much I've learned from you since finding your blog in Aug 2010-- I've lost 75 pounds, now enjoy cooking, and have the confidence to try new things) Hugs & blessings to you and yours! Shane

  8. Shane, no thanks needed, and I'm excited to hear about your success!

  9. This is exactly the kind of salad that I love. My mom actually saw this and asked if I make it for her when I go visit in May

  10. This is a gorgeous easy salad, Kalyn. Those seem to be your specialty--thanks for sharing it! BTW, I've got a rotisserie chicken "carcass" sitting in a couple of inches of boiling water in a pot right now. In a little bit, I'll remove the carcass and the remaining chicken will come right off of the carcass and be used for salad topping. :-) The water will become a light chicken "broth." ;-)


  11. Looks delicious Kalyn. We are big fans of leftover chicken especially on salads. When I BBQ, I always smoke several breasts and thighs just so we'll have it on hand.

  12. So glad people are liking this long-time favorite of mine.

  13. The dressing is gorgeous; I have always loved vinegar dressing :)
    It's cool to be able to make use of leftovers instead of throwing them into the dumpster and waste the food which tasted good just the day before and still does, although it's a day old. Salads are a good start; and in where I am, my grandma used to make stew with these leftovers ;)

  14. Christy that sounds good. Using up leftovers is a constant problem for me, so I'm always happy when I find a recipe using them that I enjoy over and over.

  15. What a lovely, fresh, summer salad recipe. I always grill extra chicken or fish so that I can enjoy great salads later!

  16. Another way to be creative with my chicken leftovers. :) Thanks for this salad recipe, Kalyn. The color of this meal is quite wonderful too. Cheers!

  17. Thanks Jean, glad you like it.

  18. Perfect timing! I have a container full of leftover chicken from the roaster I just made. This sounds delicious! And the colors will be great to encourage Mindful Eating. Thanks!


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