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Kalyn's Kitchen

Chicken Pesto Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Peas

Chicken Pesto SaladI think the most creative way of cooking is when you use leftovers that have been hanging out in the fridge and turn them into a new dish you really enjoy. Maybe this love of a leftover challenge is one reason I’m also prone to reinventing my favorite recipes, with slight variations based on the things I have on hand. This salad is a reincarnation of the Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad I made last year, but this time I added a jar of roasted red peppers and a bit of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Both these salads were a great way to use rotisserie chicken, especially if you also have leftover pesto or homemade pesto in the freezer.Speaking of creativity, thanks to my brother Rand for the new blog header, celebrating the arrival of summer. I do realize how blessed I am to have a talented designer for a brother (not to mention, Rand is a pretty great brother in lots of other ways!) It’s not quite summer for me; I have four more school days and then I’m looking forward to having time to catch up. I always have a long list of blog-related projects I can’t get to during the school year, but this weekend I finally added a button for Food Blog Search as part of my recipe index over in the left sidebar. Thanks to my friend Elise from Simply Recipes for creating the search engine, which makes it so convenient to search for recipes on food blogs.

Chicken Pesto Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Peas

Definitely the salad is more photogenic before adding the creamy dressing! You can adjust the amounts of chicken, peas, and roasted red peppper depending on what leftovers you have.


Then mix together a bit of mayo, pesto, and a spash of lemon juice and gently fold it into the salad. This will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator, but it probably won’t last that long.

Pesto Chicken Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Peas
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn as a new version of Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad.)

(Edit – this salad is great with roasted peppers from a jar, but if you want to bump up the flavor with freshly roasted red peppers, here is How to Roast Red Bell Peppers on a Barbecue Grill.)

3 cups leftover cooked chicken, diced into 3/4 inch pieces
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, diced into 3/4 inch pieces
1/3 cup mayo (can use light mayo, but don’t use fat free)
3 T basil pesto (other types of pesto also might be fun)
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
salt to taste (I used Vege-sal)


Drain roasted peppers into a colander while you cut up the chicken. Cut chicken into 3/4 inch pieces and place in plastic bowl.Remove drained peppers, rinse out the colander, then put frozen peas into colander. Rinse peas with cold water and let them thaw and drain while you cut up peppers into 3/4 inch pieces and add them to the bowl.

If peas still seem wet, blot dry with paper towel, then add to bowl. Mix together mayo, pesto, lemon juice, and salt. (You might want to put half the lemon juice, then taste to see if you want to use the larger amount.) Gently combine dressing with salad ingredients. (You may not want all the dressing, depending on how wet you prefer your salads and how much you like mayo.) Serve immediately or chill for an hour or two. This will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two, but not longer.


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South Beach Suggestions:

This is a great lunch salad for any phase phase two or three of the South Beach Diet or any low-glycemic eating plan. (Edit: The newest South Beach Diet book says peas are forbidden on phase one, so I’m updating this recommendation.) For the South Beach Diet, it’s probably a “once in a while treat” due to the amount of fat, although mayo and pesto are both made with “good fats.”


More Salads with Pesto:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad from Simply Recipes
Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Kiflinger Potato Salad with Parsley Pesto from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Poached Salmon Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing from Fig and Cherry
Green Bean Pesto Salad from Chez Christine
Salmon Pesto Salad from Just Braise
Pesto Pea Spinach Salad from Tasting Spoons
Rustic Pesto Potato Salad from Dani Spies
Egg Salad with Mozarella, Asparagus, Capers, and Pesto from Lucullian Delights

Want even more recipes?
I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.

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    18 Comments on “Chicken Pesto Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Peas”

  1. Whitney, sounds good. I think the best way to transition to phase 2 is to start by adding 1 “good carb” item a day and see how it affects your weight loss. If you stop losing, cut back to every other day. If you still are losing at a slow but steady pace, you can add more good carbs.

  2. I have leftover Spring Asparagus Puree from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Cooking book. I just was inspired by this post to smear atop leftover chicken, peas, and red pepper. I heated it, topped with shredded parmasean and squeezed a little lemon. Thanks for the idea! I’m finding Phase II difficult to navigate!

  3. I’m going to make this tonight! And actually put it over Bacon Pasta Salad!!! Can’t wait!!!

  4. I agree 100% with you on the leftover thing. Anyone can make a good meal out of fresh ingredients bouth specifically for a recipe. The real challenge is who can make something appetising from those 2 leftover chicken breasts, a couple of zucchini past their prime, and a small tupperware of homemade BBQ relish on a Thursday night 😉

  5. Creamy salads aren’t the most photo-genic…but they are always my favorite to eat… Especially with a bit of pesto.
    Love the new banner!

  6. Love the new header Kalyn – what a great way to savour the delights of white asparagus it has such a short and delicious season.

  7. This salad sounds so good! What a combination of great flavours.

  8. Thanks everyone for the nice feedback. Yes, my brother is completely brilliant and talented (and I am only a tiny bit prejudiced.)

    FFG and anonymous, so glad to hear the recipes are turning out for you! Comments like that really make my day!

  9. I find myself trying every new recipe you post and they all turn out fabulous!

  10. wonderful dressing. we have started making vegan ‘mayo’ at home and pesto and peppers would be great in it.

  11. New new header is beautiful! I too have only four more days of school. I can’t wait to have more time to cook some of your yummy recipes. I made roasted chick peas for my parents this weekend and they loved them!

  12. Wow, your brother is talented!

    This salad looks absolutely delicious. I love the combination of flavors. I’m on a kick of adding red peppers to just about everything. 🙂

  13. Kalyn, so many flavors I love and I have never thought of mixing them together. Great idea!

  14. Your header is beautiful, it makes me want to change mine too!
    And a great meal for leftovers…true that creamy dishes don’t photograph well, but the taste after the sauces have been added…!

  15. Sometimes I think leftovers give a better meal! Lovely salad with a few of my favorite flavors.

  16. Just planted my basil this weekend, so I can look forward to salads like this one later in the summer!

  17. Chicken is always a great thing to incorporate into leftovers.
    Love the new header by the way. Especially the little hummingbird.

  18. Yes lovely lovely when leftovers can come together for a dish you really love!
    I haven’t gotten that search engine button on yet, still have some things to figure out with it.