Festive little baked spinach tortilla cups filled with a brightly flavored Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Chicken Salad pair perfectly with Lipton Iced Tea and will make a lovely meal to bring your family together during the busy holiday season. This post is brought to you by Lipton Iced Tea.
This season has always been the busiest time of the year for me. Is it the same for you?
I know it’s important for me to stop moving so quickly and to take the time to sit and enjoy a nice meal with family or friends. I’m usually so busy making treats and chocolates during the holiday season that I don’t find time to cook real food which is sad because I love to cook and I really love creating new recipes or reimagining some of my favorites.
So, when a few friends stopped by to do some holiday baking with me, I decided to whip up some lunch for us all to share. I wanted something light and bright and festive too. You know me, I turn everything into a party.
When my friends get together someone usually just stops at the local gourmet grocery store and picks up a variety of deli salads. We all love chicken salad so there is always a container of that in the mix. I knew I couldn’t go wrong by making some of my own, but I decided to liven up the dish a bit.
Instead of using traditional mayonnaise I tossed my chicken with roasted red pepper pesto. The chunky pesto is packed with bright flavors. The sweet peppers are balanced by some tangy lemon juice, a bit of mellow roasted garlic, a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, a splash of olive oil, and a handful of toasted almonds.
After just one bite, I was in love. I can’t believe I never thought to toss this pesto, that I’ve used in the past to serve with my Mozzarella Cheese Filled Hearts and to create pretty Flower Shaped Appetizers, with chicken. It’s definitely a keeper.
To make the dish even more special I served the pesto chicken salad in baked tortilla cups and added a big swirl of cream cheese on top. I used spinach tortillas so that my crispy cups would be green. I like the festive holiday colors in the dish but think they would look and taste great using plain tortillas too.
When it came time to decide what to serve to drink, there was no question, my friends love Lipton Iced Tea. One friend carries a bottle of it with her wherever she goes. Her favorite is the Lipton Green Tea Citrus Flavored Iced Tea. I prefer Lipton Peach Flavored Iced Tea, so I served both. I knew the iced tea would be the perfect accompaniment to my cute little chicken salad cups.
A meal wouldn’t be complete for my friend without her iced tea. I have to admit that I don’t often think to serve iced tea with my meals in the winter, but I’m so glad I did. The refreshing drinks paired beautifully with the chicken salad.
It was so nice to sit together at the table enjoying a nice light meal in the midst of a day filled with baking. It was also nice that the meal was easy to prepare.
The roasted red pepper pesto is prepared in the food processor and takes minutes to make. I bought a rotisserie chicken and diced up the chicken breast then tossed it all together.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender. If you have neither, then just chop everything really fine and mix it together by hand.
Before I made the pesto, I tossed my slivered almonds into a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or so to get them toasty and golden brown. It really brings out the nutty flavor. I grated a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano because I think it’s flavor is far superior to the grated Parmesan cheese you can find at the deli, but either will work, just avoid the kind in a can.
The pesto can be made up to a few days ahead of time and kept covered in the refrigerator, if needed.
The tortilla cups were quite simple to make too. I cut circles from spinach tortillas using a 4 inch round cutter, brushed both sides with some olive oil, pressed them into a muffin tin, and baked them until golden brown around the edges. When you make these cups, be sure to press the tortilla fairly flat along the bottom so that the cups sit nice and flat once baked and removed from the muffin tin. You don’t want wobbly cups!
I prepped the chicken salad in the morning and kept it in the refrigerator then made the tortilla cups while we were baking. Just before we gathered around the table for lunch I filled the cups with the chicken salad then added a nice big swirl of cream cheese and sprinkled on some tiny pieces of torn basil.
Each little cup looked bright and colorful on the table. They were a dainty size so my friends each enjoyed two. I served a leaf green salad on the side and we enjoyed some sweet treats for dessert.
I was so glad I took a break to live in the moment and laugh and talk with my friends while dining on these Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Chicken Salad Cups and I hope you do to. If you’d like more inspired recipes be sure to stop by Food Network to check out all of the Lipton Bright Bites.
- 12 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
- 2 teaspoons roasted garlic
- 1/4 cup roasted slivered almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- salt, to taste
- 2 cups diced chicken breast
- 3-4 spinach tortillas (10 inch round)
- 1-2 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 8 ounces whipped cream cheese
- 2-4 basil leaves
- Puree roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, roasted almonds, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor, keeping puree somewhat chunky.
- Add oil and puree just to incorporate the oil.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Stir in chicken breast.
- Refrigerate until needed.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut twelve 4-inch round circles from tortillas.
- Brush both sides of the rounds with olive oil.
- Press into the bottom and up the sides of a muffin tin.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges turn golden brown.
- Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool.
- Spoon whipped cream cheese into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
- Pipe about a teaspoon of cream cheese into the bottom of each tortilla cup.
- Equally divide the chicken salad among the 12 tortilla cups.
- Pipe a swirl of cream cheese on top.
- Tear basil into tiny pieces and sprinkle over top.
- Serve and enjoy.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Lipton. The opinions and text are all mine.