Parmesan Basil Chicken Salad

June 4, 2006

I grow my own basil, most specifically so I can use it in my capellini pomodoro recipe. But this summer, my basil has gone wild growing, so I’ve been researching recipes to use it. I love the taste of basil, so experimenting is no hardship. Today I made Parmesan Basil Chicken Salad. I’m going to give you the original recipe first, then my changes, and last some variations you can do with it.

Parmesan Basil Chicken Salad (original recipe)


* 2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 cup mayonnaise
* 1 cup chopped fresh basil
* 2 cloves crushed garlic
* 3 stalks celery, chopped
* 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 35 minutes, or until juices run clear. Let cool, and chop into chunks.
2. In a food processor, puree the mayonnaise, basil, garlic, and celery.
3. Combine the chunked chicken, pureed mixture, and Parmesan cheese; toss. Refrigerate, and serve.

What I did differently:
First, I used canned chicken. You could also get a rotisserie chicken and use that, or use leftover roasted chicken. I think that’s the best way to do this recipe, to make it quick and easy, rather than baking your own chicken.

I omited the celery, because I don’t normally keep it in the house and I was using what I had on hand. I did add a couple shakes of celery salt instead (and then added NO salt).

I added a small amount of onion for depth. I had a half an onion in my fridge. I sliced one slice from the onion, chopped it and added it to the food processor with the puree, so probably about 1/4 cup or less.

I didn’t use the full amount of parmesan cheese because I felt it would be too rich for me with the mayo. I added maybe half that, adding slowly and tasting as I went. I tasted with each step, so I could see how each ingredient changed the flavor, for future reference.

Last, I had a cucumber in the fridge so I chopped about half a cucumber and added it at the end, to add a little texture and light flavor.

Summary: This chicken salad tastes fantastic, especially if you refrigerate it for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Highly recommended for those who like chicken salad and also enjoy the taste of fresh basil. I will be making this again and trying it as a pasta salad (variation recommended below).

Other recommended variations:
Use light mayonnaise for fewer calories and a lighter taste

Add chopped apples and/or walnuts for greater texture and crunch

Make this into a wonderful summer salad by boiling and cooking some bow-tie pasta and mixing the pasta into the mixture. It will be a light salad. This works well if you use canned chicken, which shreds nicely, but it would still be good with rotisserie chicken. Add halved grape tomatoes for color and added flavor. Refrigerate before serving to blend the tastes. Would be great for picnics and barbecues!

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