If you’re trying to add a little more nutrition to your meals in the new year, you’re not alone. But cooking in a new way and focusing on fresher ingredients and recipes can be a little overwhelming at first. That’s why we’re totally drooling over this Giada De Laurentiis Meal Prep Italian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups recipe. It makes a ton, so you can eat it throughout the week, it’s sturdy enough that you can make it on Sunday and it’ll still taste great after being in the fridge for a few days, and it’s absolutely loaded with lean protein and veggies galore.
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This isn’t your grandma’s chicken salad. In fact, there’s no mayonnaise to be found. Instead, De Laurentiis uses a tangy-sweet honey vinaigrette to dress the chicken and veggies. It keeps things moist and infuses the ingredients with flavor, but doesn’t add the greasy heaviness of a mayo-based dressing.
Then come the real stars of the salad. The recipe calls for 10 cups of shredded chicken, either from three storebought rotisserie chickens (if you don’t feel like cooking), or you could poach or roast some split chicken breast halves for a more affordable option (they’re usually very economical if you buy a family pack).
Next up are the veggies. De Laurentiis includes roasted red and yellow peppers, thinly sliced red onions, and capers (do those count as a veggie? sure!), though we could also see halved cherry tomatoes, thick slices of Persian cucumber, and even thinly sliced celery and fennel working well here, too.
Toasted slivered almonds add a rich nutty flavor, along with even more protein and heart-healthy fats.
To serve, scoop the chilled chicken salad mixture into a butter lettuce leaf. Each bite is cool and refreshing with a bit of crunch, and the combination of chicken, vegetables, and almonds will keep you full for hours. A sprinkle of Parmesan tops everything off.
Add portions of the Italian chicken salad to your favorite meal prep containers (we like this colorful glass set), then pack the lettuce leaves separately so they don’t get soggy.
You don’t have to use the lettuce cups, either. This salad is tasty on its own, or you could sub the butter lettuce cups for collard green wraps or even rice paper.
Any way you decide to serve it, you’ll never look at chicken salad the same way again.
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