Entree/ Poultry/ Salads

Hot Tuscan Chicken Salad

Not your ordinarily Church Lady hot chicken salad.

Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with church lady chicken salad. Everyone loves it and will continue to eat and enjoy it.

When I think of “church lady” I always think of Dana Carvey when he played Church Lady on SNL. He was histerical. There are so many recipes out there that I have labeled “church lady” or “church potluck” and they are wonderful and are always the recipes that people want to know who brought it and how can they get the recipe.

Can we every have too many salad recipes? I love salads whether the are leafy green salads, marinated vegetable salads, egg salad, tuna salad, layered salad and I don’t think you could go wrong with about any salad you would set before me.

I’m sure everyone has had their share of hot chicken salad and who doesn’t love the crushed potato chip topping.

I really wanted to try a different version of the favorite recipe that’s been around for years and while searching I came upon recipe after recipe that had the cream of chicken or mushroom soup added to the dish and either topped with the potato chip topping or crushed corn flakes.


Then I stumbled on this recipe from Your Lighterside.com and thought I would give it a try for my bunco group. Those poor ladies suffer through a lot of my experiments and I was hoping to get comments on what other things I might add to this salad. I did tweak the recipe a bit and added the pancetta instead of bacon (feel free to use the bacon in place of pancetta), I added the toasted almonds, some celery and substituted the Italian blend cheese for the mozzarella cheese. I can’t tell you how tempted I was to add a can of soup to the mixture but I fought the temptation and went with the recipe as it was.

Unless they were just being nice, the bunco ladies liked it and had no suggestions for changes or additions.


You can either used baked, grilled or smoked chicken. This chicken had some Herbs de Provence sprinkled on it before my husband put it on the smoker.


Brown the pancetta or bacon until crisp, drain and set aside.


After you have removed the pancetta/bacon from the pan, add in the peppers and onions for a quick sauté, about 3-4 minutes.


Chop the artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and the rosemary/thyme.


Toast the slivered almonds in a 350° oven until browned, about 7-10 minutes keeping a watch on them so they don’t get too brown.


Add everything to the bowl (except for the topping ingredients) and give a good stir.


Put the chicken salad in large casserole dish (or individual dishes) that have been sprayed with cooking spray.


Hot Tuscan Chicken Salad

Adapted from your lighterside.com


  • 6 c. cooked chicken chopped*
  • 1 15 oz. can artichoke hearts drained and chopped
  • 1/3 lb. pancetta chopped fried, and drained
  • 1/2 c. chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 2-3 small red/yellow bell peppers I used the mini size
  • 3/4-1 c. finely chopped celery
  • 1 c. slivered almonds toasted
  • 4-5 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. purple onion grated
  • 2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese grated
  • Topping:
  • 1 1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. butter melted
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Fried the pancetta until crispy, drain, reserving the fat. Add the onion and peppers to the reserved fat and sauté for about 5 minutes. Drain.
  3. Put the chopped chicken in a bowl and add the chopped artichoke hearts, pancetta, sundried tomatoes, the sautéed peppers and onions, almonds, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix. Stir in the mayonnaise and the 2 cups Italian cheese blend and the Parmesan cheese.
  4. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Put the chicken salad mixture into baking dish and bake at 350° for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove from oven and add the topping and bake for another 10 minutes or until nice and brown. 8-10 servings.
  5. For topping: Mix the melted butter and olive oil together and pour over Panko bread crumbs.
  6. *I sprinkled Herbs de Provence on my chicken before smoking. If you don't have that, use any type of Italian herbs and either grill, smoke, or bake until done.

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