Sunflower Chicken Salad
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Sunflower Chicken Broccoli Salad — LOADED with juicy chicken, veggies galore, sunflower seeds, and a sunflower seed butter dressing!! EASY, healthy, ready in 15 minutes! A HEARTY and satisfying salad!!
Hearty Chicken Broccoli Salad Recipe
Do you remember a few years ago when the sunflower seed butter craze was in full force? Or maybe that was only in full force in Southern California. Or in my mind.
It’s time to jump on the sunflower seed butter bandwagon — either again or for the first time — and make this easy chicken vegetable salad that’s ready in 15 minutes and loaded with textures galore.
It’s healthy and naturally gluten-free. Omit the chicken to keep it vegan. It will be the star of your next potluck or as an easy-peasy weeknight dinner that the whole family will love!
What’s in the Chicken Broccoli Salad?
This salad has juicy chicken, zucchini, broccoli, sugar snap peas, green onions, and sunflower seeds tossed with kale.
You get a double does of sunflower action in this chicken salad — sunflower seeds in the salad and sunflower butter in the salad dressing. The dressing is adapted from this Creamy Tahini Dressing which I love and has appeared here too. It’s got the right balance of acid and a tangy-sweetness to offset kale’s natural bitterness and bring out the best in the vegetables.
I also threw in some craisins for a tart sweetness and their great chewy factor.
What Is Sunflower Seed Butter?
If you’ve never tried it, I would say sunflower seed butter has the texture and consistency of natural almond butter or tahini, but the flavor is different. It’s nothing like peanut butter. It separates like a natural peanut butter or almond butter does and you have to stir it.
How to Make Chicken Broccoli Salad
To make this chicken, mixed veggie, and sunflower seed salad, simply cook the diced chicken and sliced zucchini in an oiled skillet until the chicken is mostly cooked through.
Then, add the garlic, sugar snap peas, and garlic and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender.
Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl and toss with the craisins, green onions, and sunflower seeds. Add the dressing and dive in!
What’s the Best Sunflower Seed Butter?
I prefer this sunflower seed butter from Trader Joe’s because it’s readily available and it’s less expensive compared to others I’ve tried. It’s lightly sweetened with just enough salt. I do NOT care for this one, also from Trader Joe’s. It has absolutely no sweetness and I find it to be overly salty.
Another good option is this Natural Sunbutter Sunflower Butter. It’s available in most mainstream grocery stores in the peanut butter aisle.
Can This Salad Be Made in Advance?
Yes! I loved this salad fresh and served immediately because the warm vegetables softened and wilted the kale. There is something so comforting about lightly steamed veggies for me. It’s also a great salad served chilled and makes great leftovers for the next day.
Tips for Making This Chicken Vegetable Salad
It was time to clean out my produce drawer and I had all of the veggies listed in the recipe card below on hand. Use what you have and enjoy, from leftover roasted potatoes to bell peppers to mushrooms.
If you don’t like craisins, you can substitute them with dates or raisins, or simply omit.
If you don’t have sunflower seed butter on hand but still want to make this recipe, try making a tahini dressing for the chicken broccoli salad instead.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium/large zucchini, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced or finely pressed
- 2 to 3 cups broccoli (florets and stalks okay)
- 1 heaping cup sugar snap peas
- 2 to 3 green onions, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- about 3 cups kale
- 1/2 cup craisins (diced Medjool dates or raisins may be substituted), optional
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I use lightly salted)
- 1/3 cup sunflower seed butter, well stirred and mixed
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey (use agave or maple syrup to keep vegan)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- garlic, optional and to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water, only if necessary to thin it out a bit; it's okay if dressing is on the thicker side
- Salad - To a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, chicken, zucchini, and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is nearly cooked through. Stir and flip intermittently to ensure even cooking.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir frequently.
- Add the broccoli, sugar snap peas, evenly drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, evenly sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir to combine, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Turn the contents from the skillet out into a large bowl, add the kale, green onions, optional craisins, sunflower seeds, and stir to combine; set aside.
- Dressing - To a medium bowl, add all ingredients, except the water, and whisk to combine. Taste dressing to check for seasoning balance; add more salt, pepper, lemon juice, honey, etc. if desired. If you think the dressing is overly thick, add a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out. I don't find water necessary because as you pour the dressing over the warm vegetables, it will naturally think out.
- Evenly drizzle the dressing over the salad and stir to combine; you may not use or need all of the dressing. Add a little at a time, stir, taste, and add as desired. Salad can be served immediately or chilled and served. Salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days, noting that it will become softer and the vegetables will release their natural juices as time passes.
Dressing adapted from Creamy Tahini Dressing
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 446Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 1533mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 10gSugar: 21gProtein: 32g
More Easy Healthy Salads:
30 Best Easy Healthy Salads – Break out of your salad rut with these AMAZING salads!! Fast, EASY, and FLAVORFUL!! You’ll want to put them into your regular rotation!!
Chickpea and Kale Glow Bowl with Dreamy Tahini Dressing – Fast, easy, accidentally vegan and gluten-free! Keeps you satisfied and glowing from the inside out! The zippy dressing lives up to its dreamy name!
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