If this is the year to make some changes, this simple and tasty high protein chicken and broccoli salad recipe will support your fitness goals. I’m always on the lookout for a meal that spans the seasons and works for many occasions. Salads that work for a hearty lunch or dinner are a jewel. It is even better when the recipe is a completely different dish from adding a protein to some greens and calling it done.
High protein foods have health benefits
This salad checks all the nutritional boxes: lean chicken meat that is poached to make every calorie count. Tons of broccoli to provide crunch, bulk, and fiber. The sauce which is cottage cheese, a touch of mayo, and seasonings. Add some sliced green onions and this simple salad packs on the flavor whether it is served warm with a slice of bread to sop up the dressing. Or chilled to be an easy salad on the go. You choose what works best with your health goals.
How to poach chicken
Learning how to poach food is a skill you want to master in the kitchen. When done correctly it produces juicy, tender meat that has a delicate texture and unparalleled flavor. The cooking method adds no fat to the dish but uses water and whatever flavors of the fresh dried herbs to infuse the protein as it gently cooks. And that is the key—gentle cooking. In my recipe for Poached sun dried chicken roulades you had an easy introduction to the method, but this recipe for high protein chicken and broccoli salad lets the poached chicken be the star of the show.
Simple Poaching Rules
- Use a large enough pan to submerge the protein in a single layer. Make sure you have a tight-fitting lid to cover the pan once the liquid has come to a simmer.
- Season your poaching liquid with salt—I use 3 tablespoons of diamond crystal kosher salt to 4 cups of water. Add herbs and spices that complement the dish. In this case, 1/2 onion and 1/2 celery stalk, plus some fresh parsley leaves.
- Heat a liquid (usually seasoned water) but you can poach in milk, broth, wine, oil, etc. You want to start with room temperature liquid and allow it to just come to a simmer.
- Once the surface of the liquids starts to move, turn over the chicken using tongs, place the cover on the pan remove the pan from the heat, and let the liquid gently poach the chicken as you prep the rest of the meal (about 10-20 minutes.)
- Test the chicken with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breast. When it reads 150°F, it is ready to rest. Resting the chicken breast for 5-10 minutes allows the juices to redistribute. Don’t skip this step.
- Using two forks you can shred the chicken meat or use a knife to slice it into 1/4-inch slices. You can use the poached chicken in so many dishes.
- To store poached chicken in the refrigerator, let the chicken cool slightly, then place the chicken in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- A bonus is the drained poaching liquid can also be used to cook rice or other grains.
High protein sauce using cottage cheese
The base for the dressing of this simple and tasty high protein chicken and broccoli salad is the unassuming stable of many a diets—cottage cheese. But we are going to change it up so you won’t notice the curds, just the tangy smoothness that gives this dressing body and creaminess while powering up the protein.
Add the dressing ingredients to a blender and pulse until to smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add a teaspoon of poaching liquid and pulse again. You want a thickish dressing since the blanched broccoli florets always have a bit of liquid which will thin the dressing out as you combine everything together.
Should you serve this high protein chicken and broccoli salad warm or cold?
It is great either way. When served warm, I always make sure to have a loaf of homemade french bread to sop up the dressing. (I don’t even feel guilty since the salad is so healthy!) Besides that, the mellow flavor is like comfort food on days when you just need that little something soothing.
It is a great meal in itself when served chilled in combination with other salads like this tangy Kale and Jicama Salad.
Whichever way you choose to enjoy this recipe, add the technique of poaching to your culinary skills and make this dish as an introduction to a brand new world of flavorful protein.Print
This simple and tasty high protein chicken and broccoli salad recipe will support your fitness goals with poached chicken and a healthy sauce.
- 12 ounces (2 average) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt, I use Diamond Crystal Brand
- 1/2 yellow onion, paper removed and coarsely chunked
- 1 stalk celery, washed and coarsely chunked
- 1/4 bunch of fresh flat-leafed parsley, divided (about 4 sprigs with leaves)
- 12 ounces Cottage cheese, use whatever size curd or low-fat option you prefer
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning, or other low salt vegetable seasoning you prefer
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced (about 2 sprigs of parsley)
- 1 tablespoon milk or cooled poaching liquid to thin the dressing
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 pound of broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups of broccoli)
- 1/2 bunch green onions, about 4 green onions, washed and sliced using both green and white parts, (about 1/2 cup)
- Using a large skillet, add chicken breasts in a single layer and about 4 cups of water to cover the chicken breasts. Add the chopped onion, celery, 2 sprigs of parsley, and 3 tablespoons of kosher salt and bring pan to a simmer.
- Once the water is at an active simmer, turn each chicken breast over. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and remove the pan from the heat. Set timer for 10-12 minutes.
- Meanwhile prep the broccoli by heating a medium saucepan with salted water over medium heat.
- Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Peel and slice the broccoli stems into bite sized pieces.
- Once the water in the saucepan has come to a boil, quickly add all the broccoli and cook until the broccoli turns bright green.
- Remove the broccoli from the pan and drain in a colander, set aside.
- Check the internal temperature of the chicken breast. If it registers 150°F in the thickest part of the breast, remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
- In a blender, add the cottage cheese, mayonnaise Beau mode seasoning, minced fresh parsley and pulse until smooth.
- You may need to add some milk or cooled poached liquid to the dressing to thin it so it will blend.
- Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. It will taste mild, tangy and creamy. Add a touch more Beau Monde Seasoning if you prefer a more flavorful dressing.
- Using two forks shred the chicken into bite size pieces.
- In a large bowl combine the poached chicken shreds, blanch broccoli florets, sliced green onions and the dressing until all the pieces are coated. You may not need all of the dressing so start with 3/4 and add more if needed.
- Serve warm or chilled.
Keywords: poached, high protein, chicken breast, broccoli