Pesto Chicken And Zucchini Noodle Salad Recipe

You can never have too many salad recipes under your belt. Supremely versatile as well as nutrient-dense, salads make a great dish option for pretty much every occasion and meal. This pesto chicken and zucchini noodle salad recipe, created by Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye, is a fresh, flavorful, and filling meal option that everyone will enjoy.

This simple salad, which can be prepared and put on the table in under 30 minutes, uses spiralized zucchini noodles in place of more traditional, wheat-based noodle as its base. This switch offers a different and more nutritious, low-carb option for your salad. It also provides a crunchy texture and more vibrancy to your plate, and it offers a great way to use up your summertime zucchini harvest if you happen to be an avid gardener. Succulent, oven-roasted chicken breast is chopped up then tossed with the zucchini noodles, sweet cherry tomatoes, and mild, creamy mozzarella in a bright and herby homemade basil pesto. Salads don't get much more flavorful than this. Great for a simple and delicious lunch or dinner or perfect as a summertime picnic or barbecue option, this pesto chicken and zucchini noodle salad recipe is one you will come back to time and time again.

Gather the ingredients for this pesto chicken and zucchini noodle salad recipe

To begin this pesto chicken and zucchini noodle salad recipe, you will first need to gather the ingredients. For the pesto, you will want basil leaves, pine nuts, grated Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. For the salad, you will need olive oil, chicken breasts, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and mini mozzarella balls, as well as further basil leaves and pine nuts, to serve.

Step 1: Begin making the pesto

To make the pesto, add the basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan, crushed garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to a food processor.

Step 2: Blend the pesto

Blend the ingredients for 20–30 seconds to form a chunky pesto. Set to one side.

Step 3: Heat a pan

Heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.

Step 4: Add the chicken

Add the chicken to the pan, then season well with salt and pepper.

Step 5: Fry the chicken

Fry for 5–6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Set to one side.

Step 6: Spiralize the zucchini

Using a spiralizer, spiralize the zucchini into a large bowl.

Step 7: Combine the salad ingredients

In a separate, large bowl, combine the spiralized zucchini, pesto, chicken, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls.

Step 8: Toss the salad

Toss everything together to coat it thoroughly in the pesto.

Step 9: Serve

Serve the salad, topped with more basil leaves and a sprinkling of pine nuts.‌

How can this zucchini noodle salad be switched up?

If you're looking to add a bit of variety to this pesto chicken and zucchini noodle salad, you have a lot of options available to you. While this recipe uses a traditional basil base for its pesto, you can change up the sauce incorporated into this salad. Whether you choose some different herbs for your pesto, such as parsley or cilantro, or you add additional ingredients, suchas sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, or walnuts, you can really play with the flavors of the dish and add your own spin on things.

Though zucchini is an ideal vegetable for spiralizing, don't be afraid to experiment. Why not incorporate some other veggies into the salad, increasing your vegetable consumption and adding color, texture, and flavor to the final dish? Cucumber makes for a fresh and cooling addition, and carrots are a great spiralizer option that will add heaps of color and nutrients to your salad. Butternut squash adds a sweeter finish to this recipe, though you will need to saute, steam, or boil the squash noodles for a few minutes before using them.

Finally, how you finish a dish can make all the difference. While this recipe uses mozzarella, feta makes a delicious and punchy substitution. Toasted walnuts or pecans can be used as a nutty garnish to the salad, giving it more protein and a great, crunchy texture.

Can you make this zucchini noodle salad without a spiralizer?

There are a great range of kitchen spiralizers available on the market today. Some are simple handheld devices, others are far more complex and give you the ability to recreate a wide variety of different noodle types, from angel hair pasta to parpadelle. However, if you don't happen to already own a spiralizer and don't want to squeeze one in to your kitchen cupboards (after all, how many of us have cupboards full of gadgets we only got around to using once or twice?), it is still perfectly possible to make zucchini noodles.

There are plenty of kitchen tools that will help you to transform a zucchini into a bowl full of noodles, and the simplest of these is your kitchen knife. This is, admittedly, a more time consuming method, but you can julienne the zucchini into thin, long strips with a good kitchen knife. A cheese grater is a quicker method, which will likely result in shorter noodles but will create the desired outcome. For thicker, more parpadelle-style noodles, a vegetable peeler is a great idea. Finally, you may well have a mandolin lying around in one of your kitchen drawers. With their various settings, these can be a great, alternative method for creating zucchini noodles. With so many different options available to you, there's nothing to stop you from trying this delicious pesto chicken and zucchini noodle salad recipe.

Pesto Chicken And Zucchini Noodle Salad Recipe
4.9 from 31 ratings
Spiralized zucchini, oven-roasted chicken, and mozzarella form the base for this fresh, summery salad, which is tossed in homemade pesto for herbaceous delight.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
5
minutes
Servings
4
servings
pesto chicken zucchini noodle salad
Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the homemade pesto
  • 2 ½ ounces fresh basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon black pepper
  • For the salad
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chopped boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 large zucchini
  • 1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ pound mini mozzarella balls
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
Directions
  1. To make the pesto, add the basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan, crushed garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to a food processor.
  2. Blend the ingredients for 20–30 seconds to form a chunky pesto. Set to one side.
  3. Heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the chicken to the pan, then season well with salt and pepper.
  5. Fry for 5–6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Set to one side.
  6. Using a spiralizer, spiralize the zucchini into a large bowl.
  7. In a separate, large bowl, combine the spiralized zucchini, pesto, chicken, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls.
  8. Toss everything together to coat it thoroughly in the pesto.
  9. Serve the salad, topped with more basil leaves and a sprinkling of pine nuts.‌
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 870
Total Fat 69.7 g
Saturated Fat 16.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 136.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 16.0 g
Dietary Fiber 4.6 g
Total Sugars 8.5 g
Sodium 1,321.4 mg
Protein 49.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe