How many times have we heard that we need to eat more salad? This recipe makes it easy to love eating loads of greens--especially when the dressing is a two-for-one time saver and it features crispy pieces of fresh basil pesto marinated chicken. If you have an air fryer, it is ideal for this recipe as it cooks in 10 minutes. This recipe is ideal for when it is just too hot to turn on the oven and a satisfying meal of protein and greens that may be eaten room temperature hits the spot. Double or triple the nut-free pesto recipe during the summer when basil is growing prolifically in the garden and freezing it (delicious on pizza, pasta, and as we use it here, as a salad dressing).
cuisine Italian
difficulty Easy
season Spring & Summer
serves 4

Ingredients for the Pesto

  • 2 cups densely packed basil leaves, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup densely packed spinach leaves, stems removed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ground pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup ground Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" wide by 2" long strips
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced into half-moons
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese shavings

Directions for the Pesto

  1. Put the basil, spinach, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse twice.
  2. Begin slowly adding the olive oil through the feed tube and pulse until the basil mixture reaches the desired consistency.
  3. Place in a glass container with a lid, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cheese. Taste for seasoning, stir in a bit more olive oil if the pesto is too thick or too dry.
  4. Finish with a thin layer of olive oil over the top, cover, and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Directions for the Salad

  1. Toss the chicken with 1/2 of the basil pesto and let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. Place the chicken pieces on the rack of an air fryer and roast at 375 degrees F. for 10 minutes (we like the slightly crispy texture the air fry gives to the chicken, or alternatively, bake at 375 degrees F. for 12 minutes, or until cooked through to the center). toss with 1/4 of the remaining pesto and set aside.
  3. Toss the arugula with the remaining pesto. Scatter the chicken pieces, feta, cucumber, and tomatoes over the arugula. Finish with the toasted pine nuts and vegetable peeler shavings of Parmesan Reggiano cheese. Serve immediately.