The whole family will love this hearty, healthy chicken farro salad recipe. Use leftover chicken (leftover rotisserie chicken is my go-to) chewy, nutty farro and a bevy of Mediterranean flavors for a bright, delicious farro salad that’s great for picnics and easy summer eating.
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Why You’ll Love Lemony Leftover Chicken and Farro Salad
I’ve been making versions of healthy chicken salad like this for years. I love it because it doesn’t get weighed down with goopy mayonnaise or creamy dressings that can become a petri dish of biohazards when sitting out on a hot summer day. Instead, it’s loaded with big identifiable chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables and simply dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.
Since we spend many weekends visiting my parents in the Florida Keys (where it’s perpetually 95° and balmy), we’d rather be boating, swimming or crooning to Jimmy Buffett instead of slaving away in the kitchen. Therefore, I make this leftover chicken farro salad the day before and bring it out the next day at lunchtime along with ice cold drinks and chilled wedges of pineapple and watermelon for an easy, breezy picnic lunch under the chickee hut. (That’s the chickee hut above — and you can’t really see it in this shot, but there is a picnic table under there.)
You can actually take this salad in many different directions depending on what you mix it with, but for this particular rendition, I’m sticking with Mediterranean flavors.
Ingredients For Leftover Chicken Farro Salad
- Leftover Rotisserie Chicken – I use the breast meat.
- Farro – cook according to the package instructions and cool completely before assembling the salad
- Chick Peas – from a can; well rinsed and drained.
- Onion – I use red onion, but you can also use sweet or Vidalia onions.
- Grape Tomatoes – if they’re large, slice them in half.
- Roasted Bell Pepper you can use storebought or learn how to make roasted bell peppers here.
- Kalmata Olives – I get mine from the deli section; the ones packed in oil.
- Cucumber (I used English cucumbers) – if you use regular cukes, peel and seed tehm before slicing.
- Feta Cheese – you can use crumbled cheese or get a block and dice it.
- Capers – packed in brine, these tiny little buds add a punch of flavor.
- Fresh Parsley – to add a lightness to the salad.
- Mint Leaves – you might think mint doesn’t go with savory, but it enhances the other flavors.
- Oregano – just a little fresh oregano goes a long way.
The key to this salad is to cook the farro and allow it to cool to room temperature before adding other ingredients. Otherwise, it would wilt the vegetables, and you want them to stay vibrant. When cooling the farro, remove the lid to allow the grains to dry out as they cool.
Best Cheese For Healthy Chicken Salad
You can use several types of cheeses in this Mediterranean farro salad.
I prefer feta (the crumbles or a whole block cut into cubes), but fresh mozzarella chunks would be great, too. Even shaved parmesan would bring an earthy, umami flair.
I usually don’t add the cheese until just before serving to keep the flavors fresh and the texture palatable. (Not to be gross, but the cheese that sits in a salad for a few days can take on a wholly unpleasant texture).
Making the dressing
Tangy citrus dressing really adds a lively punch to the flavors in the leftover rotisserie chicken salad and it’s so much better than any ready-made salad dressing.
Ingredients For lemon dressing:
- Lemon (zest and juice
- Dijon Mustard
- Champagne Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
Whisk the ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified and dress the salad, tossing well to coat all the ingredients. Note: You may not need all of the vinaigrette for the salad. Add about half of the dressing and toss completely, then taste for seasoning. If it needs more, add it a tablespoon at a time, tossing after each addition.
Versatility of Healthy Chicken Salad
This simple, flavorful leftover chicken farro salad with that citrusy dose of vinaigrette and fresh herbs is an easy, delicious meal, that’s perfect for picnics, potlucks and even pack-n-go work lunches… and if you happen to be vacationing by the shore, make it ahead of time, for a no-fuss, healthy, delicious meal to fuel your fun-filled day.
More Healthy Chicken Salad Recipes:
- Curried Chicken Salad with Rotisserie Chicken
- Asian Chicken Salad
- Lemon Orzo Salad with Chicken
- Mediterranean Khorasan Wheat Salad
More Farro Salad Recipes:
- Mediterranean Farro Salad
- Chicken Kale Farro Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Farro Pomegranate Kale Salad
- Grilled Vegetables with Feta and Farro
- Nicoise Farro Salad
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Lemony Leftover Chicken and Farro Salad
- breast meat from 1 rotisserie chicken skinned, boned, diced into 1/2″ chunks
- 1½ cups grape tomatoes halved
- ½ english cucumber sliced lengthwise and cut into thin half moons
- ½ red onion finely diced
- 1 red yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped into bite size chunks
- 1 cup farro prepared according to manufacturers instructions
- 8 ounces garbanzo beans chick peas, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup kalamata olives seeded, halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons capers drained
- 1 cup feta cheese drained and cubed
- ½ cup italian parsley leaves fresh chopped
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves optional, chopped
- 1 tablespoon oregano fresh optional, chopped
For Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 2 T dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or other wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- For salad: In a large bowl toss all salad ingredients together.
- For vinaigrette: Add the lemon juice to a glass measuring cup. Add enough vinegar to the lemon juice to equal 1/4 cup liquid. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until dressing is emulsified.
- Drizzle dressing over the chicken salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
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