Pesto vegetable salad with chicken

This colorful vegetable and chicken combination makes an elegant light entree — equally as good served either warm or chilled.

Vegetables and chicken

4 cups asparagus in 2-inch pieces

2 teaspoons olive oil

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch squares

Creamy Pesto Dressing

2 tablespoons basil pesto

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, or to taste

To complete the recipe

8 leaves leaf lettuce

½ red bell pepper, chopped

Freshly ground pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Put the asparagus in a large microwave-proof dish; add about ¼ cup water. Cover and microwave on high for about 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is crisp-tender. Drain well; cover to keep warm. (If you prefer, cook the asparagus pieces in a stovetop steamer.)

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until it is lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside; cover to keep warm.

Stir together the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Place a bed of lettuce on four salad plates.

Toss together the asparagus, chicken, and red pepper in a large bowl. Add the dressing; toss again. Mound the warm salad on the lettuce.

Advance Preparation

This dressing will keep for 2 days in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator. If it thickens after standing, thin with milk or water. The prepared salad can be covered, refrigerated for up to 1 day. Serve chilled or at room temperature.