Friday, September 9, 2011

Chicken Pesto Bake


This week begins Max Man's birthday celebrations! With his birthday on Saturday, I told him to pick out a few of his favorite meals for me to make this week. To my (fake)surprise, he once again requested chicken parmesan but with the recent tortellini gratinati, I had received my pasta fix. I decided to come up with something that I could enjoy while also providing him with one of his favorite dishes.

My friend Meredith and I were recently talking recipes and she sent me a post from a blog she follows. I looked at this recipe and could quickly relate it to a pesto chicken recipe that I have made from time to time. With this blog's influence, I decided to give it a try in conjunction with making Max Man's favorite. I adapted the recipe to my fancy and paired with spaghetti squash instead of pasta noodles.

Grocery List:
  • Spaghetti squash or pasta noodles of choice
  • 4 chicken halves
  • 6 oz. container of Pesto (for my homemade recipe, click here, this time I went for the freshly made version at Whole Foods to save on time)
  • 4 Cherry tomatoes, halved (up to your tastes, add more or less, or none at all)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Low fat, part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Click here for my Chicken Parm with red sauce recipe that I made simultaneously. Click here for my spaghetti squash technique.

To start, start heating you oven to 425 degrees. Spray a skillet or griddle with non-stick spray and we're going to quickly just pan sear those chicken breast halves to lock in the natural moisture so you have a juicy result after baking. Let it sear for about 1 minute on each side because the halves are much thinner and we do not want the chicken to cook through too much. 
 and flip

Take your pesto and spread about 1/4 cup along the bottom of the baking surface. As it heats, the olive oil from the pesto and the natural moisture release from the chicken. This will coat the meat in all sorts of great flavor and create more sauce on its own that you can later add to your spaghetti squash or pasta. 

Top the chicken with the pesto and add in some halved tomatoes to oven roast. Place in the oven and cook for 12 minutes.

At this time - if cooking the chicken parm with red sauce, flip the chicken breasts - add cheese to top the chicken and I added a drop of balsamic vinegar to each tomato. Of course a little bit drizzled in with the pesto but added a delicious tang to the end result! Place in the oven for another 8-10 minutes.

Remove from oven when cheeses are melted and bubbling.....

Using spaghetti squash or pasta, mix your preferred meal accomplice with a spoonful of the left over pesto and spoonful of the sauce from the casserole dish - a delicious blend! 

Top with the pesto chicken, followed by the roasted tomatoes and you have yourself a simple and delicious dish! Pair with a salad and serve. 
With a snap shot of Max Man's version too... funny, someone kept sneaking bites off my plate...

We had plenty for left over lunches the next day but I was almost out of pesto so I used some of his tomato sauce to toss my spaghetti squash in and that was a dynamic duo, I loved the tomato sauce contrast to the pesto chicken and highly recommend trying that in addition the double pesto!

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