BLT Chicken Salad with Basil and Grilled Avocado

DSC_0001 This recipe is for my sister Kath, who said the world could use a new chicken salad recipe – specifically one with crunch that does not involve celery.   It’s a spin on all of those BLTs we ate growing up, and will hopefully remind you of summer during this seemingly endless deep freeze.  Crisp-cooked bacon will add that crunch you’re looking for!DSC_0010BLT Chicken Salad with Basil and Grilled Avocado

serves 6

  • 5 cups cooked, shredded chicken*
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • zest of a lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup packed basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, one finely minced, one peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (less if table salt)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 avocados (ripe but firm), halved lengthwise, pitted and peeled
  • 3 small tomatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 9 slices crisp-cooked bacon
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, split
  • Bibb or Romaine lettuce
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, basil, the minced garlic clove, kosher salt and pepper.  If mixture seems too thick, whisk in one more tablespoon lemon juice.  Add the cooked, shredded chicken and stir until thoroughly combined.  Taste for seasoning.
  2. Brush cut side of ciabatta halves, avocado halves, and tomato slices with olive oil.  Heat a grill pan to medium-high.  Place avocado halves flat side down on grill pan and leave undisturbed for a minute or two.  Flip and do the same on other side.  Remove from pan and cut into thick slices.
  3. Add tomato slices to grill pan and cook for a minute on each side or until tomatoes soften and begin to char.  Remove from pan.**
  4. Add ciabatta halves cut side down and grill until warm and lightly toasted.  Remove from pan and rub still-warm rolls on the cut side with garlic clove halves.
  5. If serving immediately, assemble sandwiches with the chicken salad, avocado, bacon (1 and 1/2 slices per sandwich) and tomatoes, adding lettuce if desired.  If making ahead, crumble the bacon slices, cut avocado and tomato slices into chunks, and stir into chicken salad.

*Roast chicken is in regular rotation at our home, and I often roast two at once.  There is plenty of room in the pan so why not?  This way I can serve one for dinner and shred the second for enchiladas, salads, barbecued chicken sandwiches, or a quick dinner of quesadillas.  Store-bought rotisserie chickens are a time saving alternative.

**Grilling or roasting winter tomatoes concentrates and sweetens their flavor, making them taste much more like summer tomatoes.  It is a worthwhile step!DSC_0005

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