Pesto Chicken Salad

by Erin

Improve any chicken salad recipe by adding a little bit of fresh basil pesto for added summer flavor!

Pesto Chicken Salad 1

When we moved a whole whopping mile away, the things I was most sad to leave behind were the location (right on the bike trail) and our vegetable/herb garden. But since I no longer work at Ohio State biking to work is not as easy to do and we inherited all kinds of great things in our new garden! There are blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, asparagus, kale, mint, oregano, dill, and possibly squash (still remains to be determined). Despite the packed yard, it was easy to add in a few of our favorites into the mix such as a variety of tomatoes, peppers, sage, and most importantly basil! I eat so much basil those poor little plants never have a chance to grow very tall. Better than being neglected and flowering all over the place I suppose. But before I get into basil more I have to tell you about a new edible plant I recently learned about.

Pesto Chicken Salad 2

Last weekend at the Worthington Farmers’ Market, my friend Courtney bought purslane when a farmer told her it was a native plant around here that grows really well (especially as ground cover) and is in great in all kinds of dishes. Cool right? Well not a week goes by and I notice our vegetable garden has suddenly been overgrown by weeds, but upon closer examination I realized it looked a lot like the purslane she bought. So I googled all the things and even texted her for a second opinion (heads up there’s something called spurge that looks similar that you should NOT eat) and sure enough it’s purslane. While I was at first excited about this surprise resident, the more I read the more I want to rip it all out (of course while trying to save some in a pot). It grows so well that it’s damn near impossible to get rid of because they seed like crazy and can grow back from just stems. It sounds worse than mint! Now I am getting ready to buy tarps to cover the ground after removing it to the best of my abilities so that it doesn’t choke out all our other plants. Problem is that it’s also growing in the grass surrounding the garden too so I am worried I have lost before I’ve even begun. And yes it resides in the same plot as the basil, so now we are full circle.

Pesto Chicken Salad 4

The biggest reason I use basil so much is making homemade pesto. There’s no store bought pesto that I’ve found that can compare to the freshness of homemade. I will cut down every last bit at the end of the season and even freeze some so that I can enjoy it even longer than the seasons in Ohio allow. With a constant supply of pesto I have experimented with putting pesto on many things and I find it’s just like balsamic glaze in that it makes everything better to which it is added. So when I ordered a pesto chicken salad sandwich at a local establishment I knew I had to make my own at home. Even Bob who isn’t normally excited by chicken salad loved my version – presto pesto! I also added some prosciutto, arugula, and provolone while I was at it because it’s my sandwich and I’ll do what I want ;-)!

Pesto Chicken Salad 3

Three years ago: Taco Hummus

Four years ago: Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce & Coconut-Ginger Rice

Five years ago: Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Bowls

Six years ago: S’mores Puppy Chow

Eight years ago: Banana Foster Cream Pie


Serves 4


2 cups shredded chicken (I used a Rotisserie chicken)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt)

2 Tbsp basil pesto

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 croissants, sliced

4 slices of prosciutto (optional)

4 slices of provolone (optional)

Arugula (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, add all ingredients. Mix gently until combined. Refrigerate at least as hour.
  2. Serve on a sliced croissant with arugula, prosciutto, and provolone cheese if desired.

Source: Inspired by Kolache Republic and adapted from The Food Network.

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Susan June 17, 2019 - 10:59 am

This recipe just might persuade me to make chicken salad, although I don’t know what I’d do with all the rest of the pesto…

Regarding your weeds, the easiest way to tell spurge from purslane is to break a leaf. If it exudes a milky sap it is a spurge (Poinsettia is probably the best known spurge). We have two types of purslane growing in our yard, and I have no trouble distinguishing it from spurges. I’m very curious as to what your spurges look like. In case you are interested, portulaca is a well-known, decorative purslane.

spiffycookie June 18, 2019 - 7:30 am

Put the pesto on anything! Pizza, scrambled eggs, other sandwiches, pasta dishes…

As for the purslane, after comparing photos I am certain that is what it is. I can e-mail you a photo if you would like to see it.

Susan June 18, 2019 - 11:44 am

I’d love to see a photo. Thanks.


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