Grilled Tarragon Chicken Salad is an absolute standout on any dining table. Indulge in the flavors of a tantalizing dish that brings together the richness of grilled tarragon-marinated chicken with a delightful medley of mixed greens, rotini pasta, pecans, and juicy tomatoes. This vibrant creation promises a harmonious fusion of textures and tastes, all elevated by a luscious tarragon-pecan pesto dressing. From the first bite, you’ll be transported to a realm where the herbaceous notes of tarragon mingle with the earthiness of pecans, infusing every morsel with a burst of irresistible flavors.

OK, so this recipe’s name is a mouthful (and I didn’t even include the Pecan-Tarragon Pesto Dressing in the name!) which is consistent with the salad itself, as it’s a mouthful of flavors. First, there’s the Grilled Tarragon Chicken. Butterflied chicken breasts are marinated in a tangy mixture of olive oil, vinegar, fresh tarragon, rosemary and garlic. After grilling, they are sliced and placed atop a colorful and texture-rich salad of rotini pasta, baby spring greens, tomatoes and pecans. To finish it off, there’s this amazing Pecan-Tarragon Pesto Dressing.

I think what makes this salad sing is that the two primary flavors of tarragon and pecan are “layered” into the salad – that is, they are added into the dish at more than one step. Tarragon is in both the marinade and then the dressing; pecans are in both the dressing and then the salad itself. The result is that these flavors pop when you take a bite, without overwhelming the other ingredients.

The ingredient list and directions are long, but this is not a complicated recipe to make, and portions can be made ahead of time.

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Grilled Tarragon Chicken with Pasta, Pecans and Spring Greens

Grilled Tarragon Chicken with Pasta, Pecans and Spring Greens is a scrumptious one-dish salad that’s full of delicious flavors – and perfect for warm summer evenings!

  • Yield: 4 servings 1x



Grilled Tarragon Chicken Marinade

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (around 1 1/4 pounds total)

Pecan-Tarragon Pesto Dressing

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) toasted pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed tarragon leaves
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • 4 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1 container (5 ounce) mixed baby spring greens
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 container (10 ounce) grape tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) toasted pecan halves
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish


Grilled Tarragon Chicken Marinade

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, tarragon, rosemary and garlic.
  2. Butterfly and halve chicken breasts; place in a zip top baggie and add the marinade. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Pecan-Tarragon Pesto Dressing

  1. In a blender or small food processor, blend the pecans, parsley, tarragon, lemon juice, garlic and salt until well mixed. With machine running, slowly add olive oil. Add cheese and process just until mixed. Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend.

Preparing Chicken and Salad

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pesto dressing. Set aside.
  2. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill on medium-high.
  3. Coat grill racks with vegetable oil. Remove chicken breasts from the marinade, scraping off most of the tarragon leaves. Place chicken on racks and grill, covered, until seared, around 4 minutes. Turn over and continue grilling until chicken reaches 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer, around another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill and set aside.
  4. Toss the pasta with the greens and 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among 4 dinner plates.
  5. Slice cooked chicken on the diagonal and arrange on top of greens. Arrange tomatoes and pecans around chicken, on top of greens.
  6. Spoon a bit of pesto dressing over the chicken; Sprinkle shaved Parmesan over the top of all (I like to break up large pieces). Pass any remaining dressing on the side.


Make ahead: chicken can be marinated up to 24 hours ahead. Pesto can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using. Pasta can be cooked earlier in the day, tossed with the pesto, covered and kept at room temperature.

  • Author: (By Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Category: main dish salads, grilled chicken, easy entertaining

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I’ve provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.

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