This is going to be one of those posts where I marvel at suddenly liking something I used to abhor. Beans, corn tortillas, fish, mayonnaise, cauliflower, runny eggs, cabbage, potato salad—the list goes on. I would wonder who I even am anymore, except that I still consistently detest beets and olives. In fact, with every new food obstacle conquered, I feel even safer in declaring my hatred of beet and olives a fundamental and unshakeable aspect of my being. As a reformed picky eater, I have diminishing patience for picky eating in others, yet I believe it’s legit to allow everyone two or three really vehement food dislikes, especially if they’ve given those items a good fair shake and still can’t get on board.
All this is to say that I was always repulsed by chicken salad (which was of course a side effect of my feelings about mayonnaise), and then I saw a photo of these sandwiches from Damn Delicious on some random food site roundup and craved them desperately. This is one of those things that’s so simple and sensible it’s barely a recipe you need to write down—essentially just a caprese sandwich, bulked out with chicken that’s perked up with pesto and made creamy with a bit of yogurt. But it never occurred to me before, so maybe it’ll be news to you too. Although it’s nothing fancy, it’s easy, fresh, and satisfying summer fare. What’s more, I suddenly find myself bookmarking all sorts of chicken salad recipes right and left. Maybe it’s the maturing effects of time teaching me to broaden my horizons, or perhaps it’s just the endless SoCal summers making cold, creamy, and crunchy seem like the best way to eat everything.
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted if desired (I used sliced almonds)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups cooked shredded or diced chicken breast (I recommend poached chicken)
¼ cup Greek yogurt
1 baguette, halved lengthwise and cut into 4 equal pieces (I used 4 split Italian-style sandwich rolls and thought the slightly softer texture worked well), toasted (I brushed the flat surface with a bit of olive oil and ran them under the broiler until golden brown)
2 cups arugula
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
- To make the pesto, combine basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor; season with salt and pepper to taste. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified.
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, ½ cup pesto, Greek yogurt, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve chicken pesto mixture on baguette/rolls with arugula, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Time: 25 minutes
Leftover potential: Good; chicken salad mixture will keep for several days in the fridge. Store all the other sandwich components separately and assemble them just before serving.