Posts Tagged ‘basil’

Pesto Chicken

This recipe is adapted from what might be my new favorite cookbook. It’s called High Flavor, Low Labor by J.M. Hirsch. It’s full of mouth-watering recipes that were created for those time crunched weekday meals, but don’t mistake this for your typical “quick and easy” cookbook. You won’t find any processed foods in these recipes, he makes good use of super flavorful “real” ingredients, and some unique techniques to make super yummy meals a reality for the weekday dinner. This particular recipe simply requires some planning ahead.

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

red pepper flakes

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (about 1 full breast  – 2 halves)

about 1/2 cup flour

2-3 Tablespoons butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil

In a food processor, combine the garlic, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, vinegar, Parmesan, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until well combined (but not completely smooth).

Transfer about half of the pesto to a glass baking dish. Cover the remaining pesto and refrigerate until ready to use.

One at a time, lay each chicken breast on the counter and carefully slice across the center horizontally to create 2 thin halves (you want them to be about 1/4 inch thick – if not then place them between sheets of plastic wrap and whack’em with a heavy skillet until they are about 1/4 inch thick).

Place the chicken in the baking dish with the pesto, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.

When you’re ready to make dinner, place the flour in a wide shallow bowl (or on a plate). Lightly dredge each piece of pesto chicken through the flour, lightly coating both sides.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, combine the butter and olive oil, and heat until sizzling.  Fry the chicken a few pieces at a time until lightly browned on both sides.

I chose to serve this yummy pesto chicken on top of a salad dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. YUM!

It is also really good over pasta that has been mixed with some of the leftover pesto.

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I tend to get chicken quarters (leg and thigh) at the Farmer’s Market more often than I get chicken breast or any other meat. Mostly because they are cheap, they are typically the perfect size, and they are hard to mess up. This recipe is just one of the simple ways you can make  chicken quarters.

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken quarters
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

    In a bowl, toss chicken with olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper and marinate 1 hour (or up to a day).  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roast chicken, skin side down, in a roasting pan, 20 to 25 minutes; flip and roast 10 more minutes.

    Stir together grainy mustard and honey and season with salt and pepper. Brush glaze onto chicken and broil 5 minutes.

    I served this with a salad of local tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and goat cheese, and some sweet corn on the cob.  Another quick, cheap, and easy local meal.

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    Here is another great example of how you can make a quick, yummy, local dinner. Baked butternut squash,  pork with apples, and a tomato basil salad. All local!

    For the baked butternut squash, wash then cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds then place face down in a roasting pan, add a little bit of water and roast about 30 minutes in a 375-400 degree oven, or until the skin starts to brown.

    The pork chop is first seasoned with a little salt and pepper then very simply cooked in skillet, over medium heat. When it is almost done, throw in some sliced apples, and about 1/2 Tbsp butter and cook till the apples are browned and the pork is done (at least 145 degrees inside).

    The salad is a yummy mix of sliced heirloom tomatoes, minced basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Yum!

    (If you look closely you can see my dinner is in danger of being eaten by someone other than me)

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    By now we have all heard the reasons to eat local (better for us and the environment). However, many people still think it’s too expensive.  It doesn’t have to be. This dinner is one of many examples of a cheap and healthy meal, and it happens to be 100% local. Typically the meat will be the biggest purchase, so if you’re on a budget: eat less meat. You can choose either smaller portions, or fewer “meat” meals, or both.

    This meal took about 20 minutes to make. Quick and easy. The kale: sautéed with some garlic till tender. The potatoes: roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. The eggs:scrambled. The salad: tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar. Simple and yummy! Like I’ve said before when you start with super fresh local ingredients you don’t need to do much to it to make it an amazing meal.  The most expensive part of the meal, the local wine -Bald Head Red from Duplin Winery (yum!)

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    It is summer here in North Carolina. To me, that means that the local farmer’s markets are packed with yummy produce! Going to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings is one of my most favorite things to do. It’s like a candy store and toy store all in one. Plus, I’m surrounded with lots of other people who are just as excited about eating all that beautiful stuff. During the summer I have tomatoes pretty much every day. How can you resist such a tasty and beautiful fruit as the heirloom tomato? One other item I eat on a regular basis during the summer are purple hull beans. I typically cook them with a few strips of bacon, onion, garlic and whatever else I might have around.

    2 slices of bacon

    1 onion

    2 cloves garlic

    2-3 carrots

    1 bell pepper

    1 pound shelled purple hull beans

    In a medium size pot, over medium heat, saute the bacon until it starts to brown. Add the onion, and garlic and saute a few more minutes. Add the carrots, bell pepper and beans. Add enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil then cover and lower the heat. Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.

    I served this with some local corn and of course some heirloom tomatoes mixed with some basil, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

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