Chicken & Red Pesto Rice Salad

This yummy bowl of goodness is packed with protein-rich chicken, wholesome brown rice, crunchy peppers and healthy greens. The whole family will love this simple flavoursome dish, whether you have it hot or cold. It’s so easy, and I’m sure it will soon become a firm favourite for you.

You may think some of your famly won’t eat foods like asparagus, watercress or spinach, but when coated with this delicious pesto, it’s a fantastic way to get them eating healthy greens. Chop them up more finely if you need to disguise them more.

You can also make the pesto ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to a week, so you can use any left over to stir through pasta or other dishes as well.

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Chicken and Red Pesto Rice Salad

No ratings yet
Course Main Courses, Salads
Servings 4
Suitable for Special Diet (or adaptable) Egg-free, Gluten-free, Low-sugar



Chicken & Rice Salad


To make the pesto:

  • Put all the ingredients into the blender, including some oil from the tomatoes and peppers.
  • Mix together, taste when smooth then add any further seasoning or oil. You can make it to your own personal taste, so feel free to add a squeeze of lemon, more basil or a touch more garlic etc as needed.
  • Leave to one side for now. Any left over pesto can be kept for up to a week in the fridge if well covered.

To make the chicken & rice salad:

  • Wash the rice in cold water and put it into a saucepan. Cover with water or chicken stock, with about half an inch extra, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When boiling, stir in the stock cube if used.
  • Steam the asparagus tips until cooked.
  • In a large frying pan lightly fry off the spring onions in light olive oil, remove from heat and into a warmed bowl.
  • Place the same frying pan back onto a medium heat and cook the chicken for 8 to 10 mins until cooked. If worried, please check one inside. Turn off the heat.
  • Drain the remaining liquid from the cooked rice then add it to the pan. Add the cooked spring onions and asparagus tips. Then add the petit pois, spinach, most of the watercress, and the sliced peppers. They should end up barely cooked and the peppers should be warm, yet a lovely crunchy contrast to the rest of the dish. But it’s up to you how well cooked you want them to be.
  • Add two generous tablespoons of pesto to the mix. Gently stir it all together.
  • Serve hot in a big bowl with some watercress on the top as garnish.


Cooks’ Tips:
  • With asparagus, hold each stalk and bend, where it breaks naturally is where the woody part ends.
  • If not using meat, use vegetable stock, and add kidney beans, fried halloumi or paneer instead of chicken.
  • You can also eat this cold for a couple of days, but if so, cool it quickly. Because this has pine nuts in it, it may not be ideal for school lunch boxes.
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  1. OK, this is the second of Lucinda’s recipes I’ve tried – and it’s as good or better than the first. Three out of four of us in the family love the fish cakes, but unfortunately one of our daughters doesn’t eat fish. EVERYONE loves this chicken and red pesto rice salad (though ‘salad’ is a bit muddling as a term; we eat it hot, like a quick and super delicious paella). Little friend of our younger daughter’s asked for more the other day – that’s always a good feeling. And we’re having it again for supper tonight. Leftover red pesto great for pasta, too!