Chicken salad is one of my favorite lunch options. It’s easy to make, full of flavor, and fits nicely inside a lunchbox. Sure, it gets a little boring from time-to-time, but I thought that was the price I had to pay for eating healthy, low-calorie lunches. One weekend, I went to whip-up a batch but the only chicken I had on-hand was leftover pesto chicken. I knew I couldn’t pull off the classic Waldorf-style, grape-and-walnut chicken salad, so I thought outside the box and created this Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich instead.
It has everything you love about regular chicken salad, but a few ingredient swaps make it healthy and full of fun, new flavor. Instead of using mayonnaise, we used Greek yogurt to keep the saturated fat content down. It still has a great creamy flavor and texture, just without the unnecessary fat! We also added a few roasted red bell peppers, which not only add a pop of color to this Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich, but they also add complementary flavors to the savory and rich pesto.
Roasting Bell Peppers
Roasting bell peppers deepens their flavor and removes most of the raw, crunchy texture. It’s a great way to add depth of flavor to a simple dish! The easiest way to get roasted red peppers is to buy a jar at the store. But, they’re also easy to make if you’d like to learn how.
The quickest way to roast bell peppers is under a broiler. Turn the broiler on high and place the whole pepper directly underneath the flame. Once the skin starts to blacken and blister, turn it over and continue until all sides are blackened. I’d recommend keeping the oven door propped open so you can watch the progress!
If you don’t want to use the broiler, you could also use a 400 degree oven, it will just take much longer. You could also pop ’em on a hot grill or put them directly over the open flame on a gas range (which wouldn’t work for you if you have an electric range).
No matter how you get there, once they’re blackened on all sides, place them in a bowl. Cover it tightly with saran wrap. Alternatively, you could put them in a brown paper bag and roll the top closed. This steams the peppers, making it easy to remove the skin.
After about 5 minutes, remove the peppers from the bowl and use a knife to scrape off the blackened skin. When they’re completely peeled, they’re ready to seed and chop!
There are a lot of pesto recipes out there, so you’ll pretty much have your choice. You could also pick up a jar at the grocery store, although we’d recommend only buying something from the refrigerated section. If you find it on the shelves next to the marinara sauce, it probably has a ton of preservatives and won’t have that punch of fresh pesto flavor.
You could also give our oil-free pesto a shot. Since we use plant-based Parmesan cheese and skip the olive oil, each quarter cup serving only has 23 calories! Other recipes can have over 100 calories per tablespoon, so you have nothing to lose by trying our vegan pesto.
Yield: 3 Servings | Serving Size: 1 sandwich | Calories: 350 | Total Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Carbohydrates: 23 g | Fiber: 2 g | Sugar: 2 g | Protein: 41 g | Cholesterol: 112 mg | Sodium: 424 mg | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 4
- 2 cups boneless and skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- 1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 3 (6 inch) whole wheat hoagie rolls
- In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, and pesto. Mix well. Add the roasted peppers and gently stir just until combined.
- Place the spinach inside the hoagie rolls and then stuff the chicken salad over the spinach. Cut in half and serve.
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