We are on day two out of three in our pesto week!
This chicken salad pita is not only very healthy for you, it is packed with tons of flavor. The chicken is juicy and pesto-y (word?), the red onions are sharp and crisp, the arugula is fresh and peppery, and the creamy lemon pesto yogurt sauce brings a final note of brightness to the sandwich.
This recipe won’t make you feel like you are eating healthy, but you are! And you will feel great afterwards.
I had a smile on my face the entire time I was making this recipe (and eating it) because I knew I had come across something delicious.
So you start this recipe with the chicken! This chicken…is so good. I almost just stopped after I tasted it and made that my day two recipe.
You start with two chicken breasts. Slice them in half and spread pesto (make sure you use this base recipe!) on the top of your four chicken halves along with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cutting the chicken breasts in half gives the pesto more surface area to cover, resulting in more pesto flavor and less plain chicken flavor. It also makes the chicken cook much faster!
There is half a teaspoon of pesto on the top of each chicken breast half. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium.
Place all four chicken breast halves (if you can fit them…you might need to do this in batches) pesto side down in your pan once it’s hot.
Now that the unseasoned side of your chicken is facing up, go ahead and spread another 1/2 teaspoon pesto onto each half along with some salt and pepper.
I waited until then to spread my second 1/2 teaspoon of pesto on the second side of my chicken breast halves so that I wouldn’t lose any pesto when I flipped them over on the cutting board. If you feel uncomfortable spreading the pesto onto the chicken once its already in the hot pan, you can definitely do that step while they are still on your cutting board.
So…cook your chicken!
You want to get it nice and brown on both sides. Like Anne Burrell always says, brown food tastes good!
Once your chicken is cooked through, remove it from your pan and set it aside.
Okay, pause. Mark this chicken on your list for another meal you will make on its own. It is so delicious by itself. Serve it with some vegetables or a salad and you have a meal just as delicious as our pita sandwiches.
The chicken deserves a close up shot…
So anyway, back to today’s actual recipe…
Let your chicken rest for a few minutes, and then slice it up into small cubes…like so.
Add 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt in with your chicken along with 2 teaspoons of pesto. Stir!
I like my chicken salad this consistency, but if you like yours to be creamier, you can easily add more Greek yogurt and a little more pesto!
Season your chicken salad with salt and pepper to taste.
Now for your pita bread. This recipe makes four pita sandwiches, so you will need two whole wheat pita rounds (each half being “one sandwich”).
Cut each pita round in half and put them in the microwave for five to ten seconds. Eight seconds was the perfect amount on my microwave.
Pull them out and GENTLY peel them open so that you have a pita pocket. Microwaving makes this process easier, but they are still fragile.
Set your broiler on high and let it heat up for a few minutes.
Place the pita halves in the oven under the broiler. I just put mine right on the oven grates, but you can put them on a sheet pan if you want to be a little safer. The “fewer-pans-to-clean” approach is always my aim :).
Broil the pita halves for one minute per side, just so that they get a little bit crisp. You don’t need much, you don’t want them to be crunchy.
While your pita bread is in the oven, slice up one quarter of a red onion.
The sauce that goes with this sandwich is super easy. All you do is put half a cup of Greek yogurt into a bowl and add one tablespoon of lemon juice and half a tablespoon of pesto. Stir it up and you’re ready to go!
Now it’s time to assemble! Spread one tablespoon of the lemon pesto yogurt sauce onto each side of your pita pocket (so there should be two tablespoons inside each pita half). Next, spoon in a half cup of your pesto chicken salad (it should make about 2 cups), pressing it down against one side. Stuff some arugula in there, I added about half a cup, but I love arugula. You can go lighter if you want and just add a quarter of a cup. Up to you! Top it all off with some red onions, and you are finished!
Day three of our pesto week will be Pesto Grilled Vegetable Salad!
Here is the recipe:
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2½ tablespoons of pesto
- ¾ cup fat free Greek yogurt
- 2 whole wheat pita rounds
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ red onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Start by cutting your chicken breasts in half through the middle, so you have 4 chicken breast halves
- Spread the top side of each chicken breast half with ½ teaspoon of pesto and a little salt and pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium heat
- When the pan is hot, place your 4 chicken breast halves pesto side down in the pan
- Spread another ½ teaspoon of pesto onto the other side of the chicken breast halves while they are in the pan
- Sprinkle on a little more salt and pepper
- Cook your chicken until it is brown on each side and cooked through
- Remove from pan and let rest for a few minutes
- Cut the chicken breast halves into small cubes and place in a medium sized bowl
- Add in ¼ cup Greek yogurt and 2 teaspoons of pesto
- Stir the mixture together and season to taste
- Cut your pita rounds in half and place in the microwave for 5-10 seconds
- Carefully pull each one apart, making a "pocket" out of each pita half
- Set your broiler on high and let it heat up for a few minutes
- Place the pita rounds in the oven underneath the broiler for 1 minute per side
- Slice ¼ of a red onion
- For the lemon pesto yogurt sauce:
- Spoon ½ cup of Greek yogurt into a bowl and add ½ tablespoon of pesto and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Stir together
- Assemble the pita sandwiches
- Start with adding 1 tablespoon of the lemon pesto yogurt sauce onto each half of the pita pocket
- There should be 2 tablespoons of the yogurt sauce inside each pita half
- Next, spoon about half a cup of the chicken salad into each pita pocket, and press it down against one side
- Stuff in ¼-1/2 cup of arugula on top of the chicken salad
- Top with sliced red onion