When I saw Giada making these on TV I knew it would be a hit in my family. I never eat regular chicken salad or tuna salad because I strongly dislike mayonnaise and other processed condiments heavy in preservatives. This chicken salad is a genius concoction of fresh and flavorful ingredients such as sun dried tomato, olives, lemon juice, fennel and parsley. The creaminess is imparted by the use of deliciously healthy avocados, olive oil, and feta cheese. Giada uses arugula in her original recipe but I opted for parsley to stick to the mediterranean flavors I was combining and I really like the earthy bite it adds. I also have made this with chopped baby spinach and fresh tomatoes which also tastes incredible! The lemon juice and spices bring this all together nicely.
You need some cooked chicken breast, so you could use a roasted or rotisserie chicken, pan sear some chicken breast, or poach some breasts in a pot. I think its juicier and more flavorful when roasted. One time I made this with small chopped chicken tenderloins that I cooked in the pressure cooker with tomatoes and onions and that was quite juicy and quick! Your options are many. Just get some cooked chicken breast your favorite method.
I first made these and served them at an afternoon tea party baby shower I threw for my sister, and these shells went like hot cakes and everyone was asking for more. Fortunately it is easy to make yourself at home and is the perfect thing to put together when you have left over rotisserie chicken that you do not know what to do with! (Am I the only one with that problem?) So here is the recipe, enjoy!
- 1 lb pasta shells (about 30 shells)
- 2 lbs cooked chicken breast, cut into small cubes
- 2 avocados, cut into cubes
- 1/2 c sliced sun dried tomatoes
- 1-2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 c chopped parsley
- 1/2 c thinly sliced fennel
- 1/2 c sliced kalamata olives
- 1 c feta cheese
- 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp of black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- radicchio leaves
- Cook the pasta shells according to directions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Be sure that none of the shells are inside one another as once it dries it will be difficult to separate.
- Line each pasta shell with a radicchio leaf.
- Combine all other ingredients and toss.
- Scoop a spoon of chicken salad into each shell.
- Serve on a platter.
- You could use arugula or spinach instead of parsley or along with the parsley; it will be a different flavor but it still works well with these ingredients!