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Chicken Pesto Salad

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1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 (9 ounce) containers refrigerated prepared pesto
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (16 ounce) package frozen peas
1 (16 ounce) package gemelli pasta
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 rotisserie chickens
1 (16 ounce) package Monterey Jack cheese, cubed

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Chicken Pesto Salad

  • Serves 8
  • Easy

About This Recipe

Chicken Pesto Salad is one of my summer staple recipes. This wonderful main dish salad bursting with color and texture and flavors. It’s best if you can use tomatoes right off the vine, and the freshest bell peppers and your own homemade pesto.

But it’s also fabulous with store bought tomatoes and peppers and purchased pesto.

When I make this salad, we eat it for days until it’s gone. It’s great for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast!

You can substitute your own favorite ingredients for some of the choices in this salad. Use a different cheese, add some chopped zucchini or yellow summer squash, or add some steamed green beans or corn.



Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.


Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice, milk, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and mix with a wire whisk.


Put the frozen peas in a colander in the sink. Then cook the pasta according to the package directions.


When the pasta is cooked al dente, pour the pasta and water over the peas in the colander to thaw them. You don't want to cook the peas; they should just be thawed so they stay nice and firm.


Add the drained pasta and peas to the bowl with the pesto dressing, along with the tomatoes and bell peppers. Stir gently to combine.


Remove the meat from the chickens and cube. Freeze the carcasses to make stock.


Add the cubed chicken and the cheese to the salad and mix gently. Then cover and chill for a few hours before serving.


Linda Larsen has a B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College, and a B.S. in Food Science and Nutrition with High Distinction from the University of Minnesota. She has worked for the Pillsbury Company on the Bake-Off and in their test kitchens since 1988. Linda has written 37 cookbooks (and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005.

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