Monday, October 03, 2011

Pesto Chicken

What is one to do with all of the pesto one has made in such a short period of time that one has several jars of the stuff in one's freezer?

That was the question of the day for me, after assessing how much pesto I have actually made in the past couple of weeks. Pesto with pasta can get tiring, and I had just finished a batch of fusilli with pesto and still had half of a batch I made with walnuts in the refrigerator. Fortunately for me, I also had a package of chicken thighs in the freezer that needed to be used up to help make room for all of that marinara sauce and pesto.

I'm sure I am not the first person to think of combining chicken with pesto, and I hope I am not the last, because it made for a mighty tasty meal. It is a little less brown in real life than in the photo, but even if it had been brown it would not have mattered because it was so delicious. The combination of basil, cheese and nuts cooked through the entire piece of chicken for a flavor that just did not quit. The only thing that could possibly make it better would be a splash of lemon juice squeezed over everything before baking.

And it couldn't be easier to make. Here is the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.

Arrange chicken thighs (or breasts if you would prefer)evenly in a baking dish. Cover the top of the chicken with home-made or store-bought pesto. Cover the pan loosely with foil.
(I would usually season the chicken with salt and pepper, but the pesto has enough salt that I did not bother and the chicken was perfectly seasoned with just the pesto. YMMV.)

Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and finish baking for another half hour, or until the pesto has set and the chicken is done. (For chicken breasts, you should probably reduce the covered time to half an hour and then another half hour uncovered, but I don't cook that many chicken breasts so I am not sure exactly how long it will take.)

If you want to be fancy when serving, sprinkle toasted nuts over each serving. I used walnuts here because I used walnuts in the pesto. There are only so many pine nuts a gal has hanging around in her freezer at any given time.

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