Monday, October 17, 2011

Chicken & Roasted Bell Pepper Avocado Cups

Avocado cups have been a favorite of mine lately.  I can mix up any leftover meat and veggie that's in my fridge and dump it into an avocado cup for a quick and easy lunch.  This recipe, however, produced such a great flavor, it was worth spending the effort with the added ingredients.  Pair it with some fruit or roasted veggie and you leave the table satisfied.

4 skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)
4 bay leaves
1 quart organic low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted, roasted nut of choice, finely chopped (I used hazelnuts)
1/2 large red onion, diced
1/2 a bunch asparagus, roasted and diced into small pieces**
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 roasted bell peppers (red or yellow peppers), skin removed and diced (recipe below or you can purchase roasted peppers in a jar)*
salt and pepper to taste

Mustard Herb Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh parsley, tightly packed
1/3 cup fresh basil, tightly packed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon gluten-free Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste

To Roast Bell Peppers:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds and innards. Place them on a baking sheet skin side up. Bake peppers for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the skins are brownish-black, remove from the oven and immediately place the peppers in a large ziploc bag. Close and let sit for 20 minutes or so (or until the peppers have time to cool and "sweat").

  Once they have cooled you will be able to peel the skins right off. In my opinion, I prefer to do this method rather than purchasing the roasted peppers in a jar.  If you're trying to save time, however, it's an option.

**To roast asparagus, toss asparagus in a little olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on size of asparagus, while bell peppers roast. Remove and allow to cool before cutting into small pieces. I made extra asparagus to eat!

For Chicken Salad:
Put the bay leaves and the chicken broth in a large pot with a lid and bring stock to a simmer. Add the chicken breasts to the pot. Return the broth to a simmer. Cover the pot. Turn off the heat. Let the chicken steep in the stock for 30 minutes to an hour.
While the chicken is cooking, chop the other ingredients - garlic, almonds, onion, asparagus, basil, parsley, roasted bell peppers - and add to a large bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
When the chicken breasts are cooked, remove them from the broth and let them cool. When they are cool enough to handle, shred the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces by hand. Mix the chicken pieces in with the rest of the ingredients.

To Make Dressing:
In the bowl of a food processor combine parsley, basil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt. While food processor is running slowly add olive oil in a small drizzle. You may have to stop the food processor to scrape the sides. You want the mixture to come to a liquid consistency. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

Add dressing to chicken salad and toss to combine.

At this point you can either chill it or serve at room temperature.  Take an avocado, remove pit, and place chicken salad in the inside. 

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