Each Wednesday, I offer a recipe based on what's on sale at the grocery stores. Again, Food Lion lures me back with boneless chicken breasts for $2.50 a pound. That's a really nice price to stock up on some chicken breasts. I was looking for a quick, cool recipe for the end of summer and came across this recipe for Chicken (or Turkey) and Rice Salad with Pesto Dressing. It's from Chapel Hill cookbook author Jean Anderson's book, "Dinners in a Dish or a Dash."
It is a little bit of a splurge since it calls for a pesto dressing, which requires a ton of basil and pine nuts that can be expensive. If you have been growing your own basil or have access to a neighbor with a garden full of basil, you can probably get what you need for this dish without the expense. I might also shop around for pine nuts. A quick look turned up pine nuts for 70 cents cheaper per package at a nearby Harris Teeter.
This dish also lends itself to cooking the chicken and the rice ahead of time and then assembling the salad and making the dressing in the evening. If you don't want the expense of pesto dressing, choose your favorite bottled dressing and add whatever veggies you have on hand: diced carrots, peas, peppers, even raisins would be good in this salad.
Chicken and Rice Salad with Pesto Dressing
2 cups diced cooked chicken
3 cups leftover cooked rice at room temperature
3 large scallions, trimmed and coarsley chopped, include some of green parts
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place chicken, cooked rice, scallions and pine nuts in a large bowl, toss well, set aside.
In a food processor or blender, churn the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, cheese, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Pour dressing over salad. Let stand for 20 minutes. Taste and if bland, add 1 more tablespoon of lemon juice. Also add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of olive oil if salad seems dry. Toss again and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Boneless chicken breasts, $2.50 per pound, Cost for meal: $2.50
Rice, $1.32 for pound, Cost for meal: 99 cents
Scallions, 79 cents for bunch, Cost for meal: 47 cents
Pine nuts, $7.38 for 5 ounces, Cost for meal: $7.38
Basil, $3.98 for two small boxes, Cost for meal: $3.98
Olive oil, $2.80 for 8.5 ounces, Cost for meal: 66 cents
Garlic, $1.49 for three heads, Cost for meal: 4 cents
Parmesan cheese, $4.39 for 8 ounces, Cost for meal: 55 cents
Lemons, 69 cents each for large lemons, Cost for meal: $1.38
Total cost for the meal: $17.95
Cost per serving: $2.99