Why haven't I ever thought of making pesto with something other than basil before? Sure, basil pesto is nothing short of vibrantly green deliciousness, but lots of fresh basil can be somewhat elusive if not in season (at least around here).
I found this recipe for Chicken with Arugula Pesto in the September 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine in the weeknight cooking section. It caught my eye with its fresh ingredients, so I added it to my next shopping list.
Once at my local grocery store, arugula was nowhere to be found, and I didn't really feel like searching all over town for it. So, I got to thinking...Why not use baby spinach instead? Baby spinach is readily available all year long, easy to find and cheaper than basil. It sounded like a winner to me.
And a winner it was, indeed. The pesto tasted great, especially with the addition of the toasted almonds. They added a great depth of flavor...Don't skip the toasting part. It's worth the extra effort.
The orecchiette pasta and green bean salad makes for a flavorful side dish, thanks to grated lemon zest and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and the broiled tomato halves topped with pesto and bread crumbs rounds out this meal.
The next night, I cooked more of the orecchiette and then added the leftover pesto to the pasta, along with diced tomatoes and baked chicken. It was the perfect way to use up the leftovers, yet make an entirely different meal (I'll post that recipe on the blog next).
You'll love this healthy, easy dish...Make it soon!
Bon Appetit, my friends! :)
Chicken with Spinach Pesto
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, September 2012
Kosher salt6 ounces orecchiette (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley
2 tablespoons almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 medium tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons whole-wheat breadcrumbs
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs; about 3 minutes before the pasta is done, add the green beans. Drain the pasta and beans and rinse under cold water. Toss with half of the cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest and salt.
Preheat the broiler. Puree the spinach, parsley, almonds, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons water, the remaining cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt to taste in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl.
Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and season with salt. Rub all over with 1/4 cup of the arugula pesto and broil, turning once, until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Arrange the tomatoes cut-side up on another baking sheet and broil 2 minutes. Spread each with some pesto and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Broil until golden, 1 more minute. Serve the chicken, tomatoes and pasta salad with the remaining pesto.
Per serving: Calories 491; Fat 16 g (Saturated 4 g); Cholesterol 96 mg; Sodium 737 mg; Carbohydrate 42 g; Fiber 5 g; Protein 44 g