Sunday, September 16, 2012

Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad Recipe with Edamame (or Peas)

Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad is the perfect use for leftover rotisserie chicken!

(Updated with step-by-step photos, September 2012.  If you're making Pesto from your garden basil, this salad is a very tasty way to use it!)  When I first made this Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad, I wasn't sure it was going to be anything special, but after it chilled in the refrigerator I loved the way the flavors blended into a combination I really loved.  I used my homemade Basil Pesto with Lemon, but even if you only have basil pesto from the store, this salad is a great way to use leftover chicken and this simple recipe is about as easy as they come.  The original version had green peas, but this time we used edamame for a Phase One version of the salad.  It's relatively high in fat from the mayo, pesto, and olives, so for South Beach dieters I'd eat a small portion with a nice big green salad on the side.

While the edamame or peas thaw, cut up the leftover chicken into pieces about 3/4 inch square.

Thinly slice green onions, cut the olives in half, and measure out the edamame (or peas).

Mix the mayo and pesto to make the dressing.

Mix all ingredients together, and for best flavor let the salad chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two.

And here's the original photo of this salad from back in 2007!

Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad with Edamame (or Peas)
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup frozen edamame or green peas
1/2 cup black olives (or more, I used about half a can)

Dressing Ingredients:
1/3 cup mayo (can be light but not fat free for South Beach Diet)
3 T basil pesto

Thaw frozen edamame or peas with cold water, and let drain in colander while you prep the other ingredients. Dice chicken into pieces about 3/4 inch and put into mixing bowl. Slice green onions and cut olives in half and add to chicken. Blot edamame or peas dry with paper towel, then add to bowl with other ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayo and pesto. Gently fold dressing into salad. Chill for an hour or two before serving.

Variations: You could replace the edamame or peas with any number of other ingredients including diced red bell peppers, celery, radishes, cooked asparagus, or jicama. For a lower-fat salad, leave out olives and add another veggie ingredient to go with the peas.

South Beach Suggestions:
If you use edamame (or another phase one ingredient) this salad would be approved for all phases of the South Beach Diet.  With peas, it would be limited to phase two.  The South Beach Diet says regular or low fat mayo is allowed but says to use it sparingly. I use full-fat mayonnaise made with soybean oil, but it does contain eggs. Obviously mayonnaise and pesto are both high in fat, but soybean oil and olive oil are both considered "good fats".  You could certainly use low fat mayo in this recipe with good results, and I would use portion control for the salad and eat it with some veggies or a big green salad on the side.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Delicious Dishes with Basil Pesto:
(Recipes from other blogs may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Easy Penne Pasta with Zucchini and Basil Pesto from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pasta with Basil Pesto, Pine Nuts, and Cherry Tomatoes from eCurry
Baked Pesto Chicken from Kalyn's Kitchen
Savory Tomato Pesto Pie from Farmgirl Fare
Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Cheese from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pesto Pasta Salad from Simply Recipes
Pesto Lemon Rice from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spaghetti with Basil Pesto, Tomatoes, and Olives from The Perfect Pantry
Barely-Cooked Asparagus with Basil Pesto from Kalyn's Kitchen
Mini-Meatball Sliders with Basil Pesto from Annie's Eats

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dang it, we finished our rotisserie chicken last night. That would be just the thing to take on the plane! Guess I forgot what I got that chicken for.

Dianne said...

Wow! That looks and sounds really tasty! I've got to try it! :)

chigiy said...

I should never go to your blog when I'm hungry. This salad looks great. Now I have to go make lunch, I'm going to try it with turkey 'cause that's all I have:)

Lydia said...

Delicious! And what could be easier? Thanks, Kalyn.

Anh said...

This sounds really yummy! I will try it out very soon! :)

Karina said...

Is there anything that doesn't benefit from a dollop of pesto? Sounds delicious [and I love the new asparagus in the header - so perfect for spring!].


Laurie said...

This sounds so good with the addition of the pesto, I always have some around, will be trying this soon!

Joe said...

I can't wait until our basil plants get in gear so we can start freezing some pesto!

Amity said...

This is really good. I made it for lunch today. Thanks for the idea. I never would have thought to put peas in chicken salad, but it's great. :)

Kalyn said...

Thanks everybody for the nice comments. (You can tell I'm overbooked when I'm doing such a bad job of responding, but I do always appreciate everyone who comments!)

Amity, thanks for letting me know you liked it. I love peas in salad!

Zoe said...

This was a wonderful chicken salad variation -- I had it two times this week! Once I ate it on top of raw spinach, and the second time open-faced on toast. I had some homemade white bean and basil pesto that I put to good use here. I didn't add the peas because I didn't have any at the time, but I love peas and will definitely try adding them in the future.

Andrea said...

This salad sounds amazing! I have a ton of pesto that I just made from my basil so I'd love to try this. Do you think it would be good with rice in it? I'm wanting to bring it to a picnic but I need more filler in it. Preferably something gluten-free. Thanks!

Kalyn Denny said...

Andrea, yes I think you could mix cooked rice into the salad and it would be great. You might need a little more dressing.

Beth said...

I made this with commercial pesto, which was probably a mistake as it seemed to need some help in the flavor department. I added freshly chopped basil, feta cheese and a bit of lemon juice and it tastes great now. Thanks for sharing!

Scott said...

This is brilliant on top of a bowl of fresh spinach. Thanks for the great recipe!

Kalyn Denny said...

Scott, I love that idea, thanks!

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