This basil chicken salad is a nutritious and flavorful way to use up an abundance of fresh basil. It’s packed with nutrition and a punch of protein, and naturally gluten-free. Summer whole food dining at its finest.
It’s the first day of school. As one dad at the bus stop put it – freedom! Well, sort of. I’ve still got the baby at home with me most days. Our darling Asher is currently toddling around the house with a sock in his mouth and a diaper in each tiny fist, growling at the cat. This is how we Tuesday.
As much as I love the first day of school, it’s a signal that the end of summer is truly here. I could definitely live with 6 months of summer and 6 months of fall every year, so I’m not terribly sad to welcome the autumn eating season. But I’m so going to miss tomatoes and stone fruits and melons and so many of the other delicious whole food luxuries of summer. For the moment, though, summer is still in the (daytime) air and I’m going to milk it for all I can. This delicious basil chicken salad with peaches and corn does just that.
I created this salad for my mother-in-law. She posted on Facebook a few days ago asking what to do with a massive bounty of fresh basil she’d just harvested. There were the classic responses of pesto, pesto, and more pesto. And caprese salad, natch. And both are delicious summer staples in our kitchen, but it got me thinking about other ways you could use up a mess of basil in one go. A visit with my favorite recipe development handbook, The Flavor Bible, 1 cup of coffee, and a few head scratches later and I came up with this basil-rrific salad. It utilizes over a full cup of fresh basil, and is gorgeous to boot. All of the produce! All of the colors! And on the table in just under 40 minutes (half that if you have a helper to prepare the salad base!). Summer dining at its finest.
Basil Chicken Salad with Peaches and Corn Recipe Notes
There is so much good-for-you stuff happening in this basil chicken salad. It’s packed with nutrition and a punch of protein, and is naturally gluten-free. There were some full, happy bellies up in this house after dinner.
I grilled the chicken, corn, and peaches on my Weber Kettle grill. I love the smoky flavor a charcoal grill imparts, but a standard gas grill or grill plate will get the job done just as deliciously. For this recipe, I grill the corn in the husks. It keeps the kernels a bit moister than “naked” grilling, and they’ll fall off in nice little chucks when you slice them from the cobs for a pretty presentation, and an additional layer of texture.
I like raw blue cheese here. It packs a nice pungent punch. If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, there are so many other options – feta, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, burrata. Or go without for a dairy-free option.
The salad base is a mix of baby romaine and spinach, with whole basil leaves tossed in. The sweet, tender, mild-tasting lettuces fade into the background and allow the basil to be the star. I finish the whole thing off with my favorite basil vinaigrette. A bullet-style blender, like the Ninja, makes this process fast and easy.
Basil Chicken Salad with Grilled Peaches and Corn
This basil chicken salad is a nutritious and flavorful way to use up an abundance of fresh basil. It's packed with nutrition and a punch of protein, and naturally gluten-free. Summer whole food dining at its finest.
- 1 lb chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 tbsp basil chopped
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 ears corn
- 2 peaches pits removed, quartered
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- sea salt to taste
- cracked black pepper to taste
- 8 c. baby mixed greens
- 1/2 c. basil leaves
- 2 oz blue cheese crumbled
- 1 english cucumber sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 c. fresh basil
- 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp champagne vinaigrette
- 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/s tsp cracked black pepper
Pre-heat a charcoal grill, gas grill, or grill pan oven high heat.
Prepare the salad dressing. Combine the fresh basil, olive oil, champagne vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small blender (like a bullet) and blend until emulsified. Alternatively, finely chop the basil, then place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake vigorously until combined.
Prepare the basil chicken for grilling. In a small bowl, whisk the avocado oil, basil, kosher salt, and pepper. Place the chicken breasts on a place, and coat each side of the chicken with the basil marinade. I find the easiest way to do this is to spoon marinade over the chicken, and then rub in the marinade with your (clean) hands.
Prepare the corn and peaches for grilling. Trim any long husks from the corn that might fall through the grates, but keep husks in tact. Halve the peaches, remove the pits, then quarter. Brush each side of the peaches with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.
Slice the cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Place the baby mixed greens, basil leaves, blue cheese crumbles, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl and set aside.
Place the chicken breasts, peaches, and corn on the grill and grill over high heat. For the chicken, grill for 8 minutes, then flip and grill on the other side until the internal temperature reaches 165*, about 15-18 minutes total. For the corn, turn every 2-3 minutes until the husks are charred on all sides, 10-12 minutes. For the peaches, grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until each side is charred and the peaches are tender, but not mushy. For ease (and because my grill was too small to accommodate all items), I placed the chicken and corn on the grill first, removed the corn after about 11 minutes, and then added the peaches to the grill. By the time the peaches were complete, the chicken was also finished.
Remove the husks and silks from the corn, and the slice the kernels off the cobs. Add the kernels to the bowl with the salad base ingredients, and gently toss all ingredients. Divide the salad between 4 plates.
Slice the chicken and the peaches. To each salad plate, add 1/2 sliced chicken breast and two sliced peach halves. Dress with basil vinaigrette to taste and serve immediately.
You'll have extra basil vinaigrette left over. Try it tossed over warm potatoes, or to dress a simple side salad. Keeps in the fridge for about a week.
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