Monday, May 23, 2011

Chicken with Cilantro Pesto

I'm still here.  Are you still here?  My world did not end on Saturday.  Did yours? 


Well, then.  Since we're all still here, we might as well enjoy one of God's blessings: cilantro.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat the south-of-the-border flavor.  Hope you like it too!  This is a great weeknight meal because it is so fast.

A few years ago I found a recipe for Cilantro Pesto in the Southern Living Annual Cookbook.  I knew I had to give it a try. The original recipe used shrimp, which was also delicious but, let's face it, not as cheap as the chipper chicken.

It's really yummy, fresh, light and easy. A great summer dish. A new way to spice up chicken.

You'll want to serve the pesto on top of chicken on top of a bed of rice. Asparagus and pineapple are great sides for this meal, by the way. I think that comes from my mom's insistence that we eat a fruit and a vegetable at meals.  Every meal.  Every single meal.  Now that I am a mom, I totally understand and yes, I make my children do the same thing.

You can marinate the chicken in lime juice and garlic if you want. If you don't want, just toss some boneless skinless chicken breasts on the grill with some olive oil and grill seasoning.

Start some water and rice in a pot. Not minute rice. The real stuff. I've already shown you my year's supply of Uncle Ben's long grain white rice from Sam's so I'll spare you that again.

And now we can make the pesto. This happens fast.

Take a bunch of cilantro and tear it roughly in half so that you end up with mostly leaves and a little bit of the stem. The stems will get ground up and won't be tough in the pesto. Make sure you wash your cilantro well - I forgot to wash mine one time and the pesto was sandy.  We gritted our way through dinner.  Nice.  My husband is such a good sport. So learn from my mistake and wash the leafy stuff.

Put the cilantro into your food processor.

Add in some green onions and a couple garlic cloves. As you can see, I used three cloves.  I have a garlic issue.  But we already knew that.  Then you want to bring the heat - throw in a serrano pepper. But lop the top off, cut it in half and clean out the seeds and ribs first. Otherwise you'll be breathing fire after your first bite. I left a few seeds in because I live on the edge.

Toss in a small tomato, the juice of a whole lemon, some olive oil, parm cheese and pine nuts.

But you'll want to toast the pine nuts first.

Just don't burn them. They cost more than gold bullion.  I've made that mistake before, too, and throwing away black pine nuts is just painful.  So don't do it.

Salt and pepper and whir it all up! Take off the lid of your food processor and smell the pesto. Mmmmm.

And that's it.

A dollop on top of grilled chicken and rice is summer on a plate. And be sure to eat your fruit and veggies. 

Cilantro Pesto
Adapted from Southern Living

1 bunch cilantro leaves (about a cup)
3 green onions, hairy ends removed and cut into thirds
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, cut in half with the seeds and veins removed
1 small tomato
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Juice of a lemon
2 T olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Process all ingredients in the food processor until ground fine and mixed well.

Serve a dollop on top of a grilled chicken breast with rice.  Roasted asparagus and fresh pineapple go well with this meal.

The pesto will serve 3-4 people, depending on how much of it you like on top of your chicken.

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