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Lemon-Pesto Chicken Salad tastes complex, but it's simple — and delicious

The simple-to-make yet complex-tasting Lemon-Pesto Chicken Salad uses rotisserie chicken and premade pesto. The dish’s secret: capers.

Associated Press

The simple-to-make yet complex-tasting Lemon-Pesto Chicken Salad uses rotisserie chicken and premade pesto. The dish’s secret: capers.

In our small hometown, Sunday evening's concert in the park is more than just a gathering of locals and tourists. It's how we mark the passage of time between May and September.

Over the years, we've become picnicking experts. My top two pieces of advice on picnic planning are keep it simple and keep it flavorful. Because the getting ready — packing up a tablecloth or blanket and all the dishes — takes time, I've learned to make the menu extra simple. But extra simple doesn't mean sacrificing on flavor.

My solution is to turn to a trusted supermarket shortcut, the rotisserie chicken, as a starting point for a deceptively simple, yet unbelievably complex-tasting, chicken salad. A very distant cousin to the over-creamy chicken salad Grandma used to make, this dish gets its garlicky-herbaceous flavor from pre-made pesto. A generous helping of lemon zest adds depth and balance. But the secret of this dish is the capers, brine included.

Pack a thermal container of this chicken salad along with whole wheat pita halves, a head of lettuce for lettuce wraps, raw vegetables and a big bunch of grapes, and you have a strong picnic game for Sunday, or anytime.

LEMON-PESTO CHICKEN SALAD

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons prepared pesto

3 tablespoons low-fat plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons capers, brine included (do not drain)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

½ rotisserie chicken, cubed (about 2 ½ cups)

½ cup finely chopped celery

1 cup cherry tomato halves

1 green onion, chopped

Lemon wedges and parsley for garnish (optional)

To make the dressing, mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon. In a large bowl, place the chicken, celery, tomato and green onion. Spoon the dressing on top and stir to coat. Chill until serving. Serve with lettuce wraps, whole wheat pita or tortillas. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley, if using.

Serves 4.

Nutrition information per serving: 243 calories (107 calories from fat), 12g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans fats), 80mg cholesterol, 296mg sodium, 5g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 28g protein.

Lemon-Pesto Chicken Salad tastes complex, but it's simple — and delicious 07/21/16 [Last modified: Thursday, July 21, 2016 3:00pm]
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