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Pesto Grilled Chicken

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Sorry for the absence everyone – I’ve been trying to adjust to 60+ hour work weeks (in addition to a brutal commute) on the latest project I’ve been assigned to, and it’s been difficult to get things written up that we’ve been doing.

Adjusting to this new work schedule has also been cause for a few adjustments to our menu planning.  Having only Sundays off right now, and with early waking hours (and consequently early bed times) the rest of the week, our focus now is on meals that can be done with very little cooking time and even less preparation.  Luckily, we have a large number of recipes on the site that already qualify (tagged either “easy” or “quick”), and we will continue to add more until I am assigned to a less hectic project.

This recipe is a variation on our Pesto Baked Salmon using fresh basil from our CSA share.  When preparing the chicken breast, however, I also added a “pocket” cut into each breast and stuffed with pesto.  This infuses flavor and moisture through the meat much more effectively than simply spreading the pesto on top.

Gather Up:

  • 4 chicken breast halves, thawed with skin and bones removed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Warm the grill (or oven) to medium-high heat (about 350 degrees indirect heat).  Place everything (except the chicken breast) in a small food processor or blender and puree to a thick chunky paste.

Use a sharp paring or fillet knife to cut a horizontal slit into each breast.  Insert the knife into the side near one end and cut toward the other end, leaving about half an inch uncut on three sides.  Pack this “pocket” with roughly a tablespoon of pesto in each breast.

Close the pockets back up and spread the remaining pesto over the top of each breast.  Set aside until the grill reaches temperature.

Cook for about 30 minutes, or until a quick-read thermometer inserted into the thickest breast reads 160 to 165 degrees.  Let stand for a couple of minutes, then slice across and serve with your side of choice (cucumber and tomato salad in this photo).  Dig in!