Oven Baked Pesto Chicken

photo by Kimberly Roberto

This is a recipe I have been making since my early married life.  It was one that was quick and easy, yet has tremendous flavor.  It is great for the whole family but also has an elegant flair that can be used for dinner parties.   Surely one of my favorites.

 

1 pound organic chicken breasts
1-2 tablespoons of pesto sauce per breast (homemade (see below) or storebought but check ingredients!!! Look for olive oil NOT damaged oils)
4 roma tomatoes, sliced
sea salt and ground black pepper
shaved parmesan cheese, optional
sliced black olives, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim any excess fat from the chicken and place between pieces of parchment paper.  Pound chicken to even thickness (approximately 1/2 inch) with a meat mallet.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and transfer to a baking dish.  (General cooking hint:  you want the chicken to fit snugly for best cooking – you do not want a lot of extra space in the pan)

Spread pesto sauce over the top of the chicken breasts and cook for about 20 minutes than add the sliced tomatoes and parmesan cheese if desired.  Continue cooking until chicken is cooked through (about 15-20 additional minutes).  Add slices olives as garnish if desired, and serve.

Pesto Sauce

3 cups fresh basil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup  pine nuts or walnuts ground fine
2/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional

Place the basil in a blender.  Pour in about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and blend the basil into a paste.  Gradually add pine nuts or walnuts, cheese, garlic, chili powder, if desired, and drizzle in remaining oil.  Continue to blend until smooth.
Extra pesto sauce can be used on eggs, on cauliflower or other steamed vegetables, over spiral sliced zucchini, or as a dip.  Extra can also be frozen in ice cube trays for use later.

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