This weekend was aggressively food-filled and by Sunday evening my body was begging for a low-key meal at home that avoided all things carbs and sugar. With chicken and vegetables already purchased from an early morning Trader Joe’s run to beat the lines (talk about an accomplishment), I had my heart set on a clean eats recipe that I’ve made and loved many times; baked pesto chicken.
Usually I cheat and use the pre-made pesto, but because it was a Sunday and I had a few extra hours, I made a quick second grocery stop for pine nuts and Pecorino for my first attempt at homemade pesto! I was surprised by the few ingredients it required and I loved how it turned out. The best part was that it was preservative-free, meaning I knew exactly what went into the recipe and what I was eating, which you don’t always get from something processed and stored in a jar. Now that I know how easy it is to make pesto from scratch, I’ll be doing this going forward and slathering it on everything I eat!
Once I made the pesto, I quickly incorporated it into one of my easiest chicken dishes. After putting pesto on the bottom of a greased baking dish, I topped it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, doused with the remaining pesto, covered in foil, and baked in the oven. How tough is that?! Five minutes before the chicken was finished baking, I sprinkled with grated mozzarella cheese and let the cheese melt over the pesto-saturated poultry.
From start to finish, I was seated at my kitchen table with a hot plate of cheesy, homemade pesto deliciousness all within the hour. You can’t beat that!
I should also add that I saved my leftovers for a lunch salad the next day and topped it with the extra pesto juice from the pan. It was delicious and easy to throw together!
– 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1/4 cup pine nuts
– 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
– 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
1. Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Mix in the cheese.
Source: Food Network
Baked Pesto Chicken
– 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– Salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
– 1/2 cup basil pesto (I used my homemade pesto, but you can use purchased pesto.)
– 2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces
3. Spray a 9″ x 12″ (or 8.5″ X 12.5″) baking dish with non-stick spray
4. Spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.
5. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through. (Don’t cook too much at this point, or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.)
6. After 25-30 minutes, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted.
7. Serve hot.
Source: Kalyn’s Kitchen