If you live in New York City, you know how dreadfully hot it's been the past few weeks. Just plain awful. It was in the high 90s every day last week, and so far this week it hasn't been quite as hot, but painfully humid and just plain gross. Which doesn't bode well for spending a lot of time in a hot kitchen. But who says you have to be in a hot kitchen? I'm staying far, far away from my stove and oven... At least for now.
Let me bring you up to speed. A few weeks ago I made the life-changing decision to buy a Crock-Pot. Seriously. Life-changing. I'm completely obsessed and don't know how or why I went so long without one. I've been using it constantly, and I'm on a major chicken bender. I mean, it's genius. You plug the thing in, set the timer and the meat just sits and cooks slowly, whether overnight while you're sleeping or during the day while you're at work. Genius. I like to thrown in three or four chicken breasts, a carton of chicken stock, half an onion, some garlic, rosemary, half a lemon, salt and pepper. Delicious.
I've been shredding the chicken and using it in salads for lunch, but decided to take it up a notch when I saw a recipe for basil chicken salad in a recent issue of America's Test Kitchen (which I'm going to subscribe to immediately, and I suggest you do as well). It originally called for one cup of mayonnaise and less basil, but I'm not a huge mayonnaise fan and decided to substitute in Greek yogurt and sour cream. I also wanted to make it my own, as much as I could. I mean, can you think of a more perfect summer recipe? I love the spin on traditional chicken salad, and lord knows how great (and plentiful) fresh basil is this time of year. Although I will say, the basil in my indoor urban garden is not doing well at all.
As you know, I'm all about easy recipes that take less than 30 minutes. With the exception of cooking the chicken in the Crock-Pot, which takes barely any effort and can be done ahead of time, this took ten minutes. I know, you're welcome. So in the interest of time, I'll stop blabbing on move on to this delicious summer recipe.
Basil Chicken Salad
Cooking time: 5 hours + 10 minutes
3-4 organic chicken breasts
1/2 onion, chopped (white or yellow)
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 carton organic low-soduim chicken stock
3/4 cup 2% fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cubed
3 celery sticks, chopped
4 cups organic baby arugula
Place the chicken breasts, onion, garlic, lemon, rosemary and chicken stock in the Crock-Pot and cook on low for five hours (it will stop cooking after five hours and remain heated, but I wouldn't let it sit for more than four or five hours after it's done). Remove layer of fat from chicken breasts, place in a separate bowl and shred with a fork. Cover and place in the fridge (it usually keeps for up to three days, maybe four).
Combine yogurt, sour cream, parmesan cheese, basil, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth (about 15-20 seconds). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine chicken, basil dressing, apple and celery in a bowl and mix. Serve over a bed of arugula and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.