Pistachio and Basil Pesto

Pistachio and Basil PestoWhew! The last few weeks have been hectic. Packing, moving, unpacking… but we are all settled in to our new home and ready to enjoy the summer. Basil is my all-time favorite summertime herb, so much so, that one basil plant just isn’t enough in my house. Of course when I make pesto, I think pasta, but it’s also great on pizza, in soups, and – my newest favorite – on sandwiches. Doesn’t a grilled cheese with mozzarella and prosciutto, topped with bright and aromatic pesto sound indulgent?  This pesto sauce also takes less than 5 minutes to make; all the ingredients are thrown in a food processor and blended until smooth.  Easy and delicious!

Pesto is traditionally made with toasted pine nuts, but the grocery store sells pistachios in the bulk section, where I can buy just what I need for a single recipe. Pistachios are also less expensive than pine nuts, so it’s a win-win to me.

Pistachio and Basil Pesto 2Ingredients (serves 4):
¼ cup unsalted pistachios, toasted (see below)
3-4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, quartered
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

To toast the pistachios, preheat a small skillet on medium heat. Add pistachios and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place toasted pistachios, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, garlic, crushed red pepper and olive oil to a food processor.  Pulse until ingredients are smooth, scraping the sides with a spatula as necessary. Season with salt and pepper and toss with your favorite pasta for an easy weeknight meal.

Enjoy!

Parmesan Crusted Pesto Chicken

Parmesan Crusted Pesto ChickenWith the cold front that moved through this past weekend, I knew it would be too cold for my outdoor basil plants to survive. I was thinking about making a traditional pesto with pasta, but tis the season for heavy eating, and wanted to keep it light with Thanksgiving only a few days away.

I tried this on a whim, but this is the most fresh, flavorful chicken, hands down! I will need a few more basil plants next summer, so I can make this a weekly tradition. It’s a relatively light dish, but it sure doesn’t taste like it with the garlicky parmesan crust. It’s a great dish if you don’t have a grill; the cast iron skillet is perfect for going right from the stove top into the oven. Less to clean up!

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 chicken breast halves
1-2 cups loosely packed basil laves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1 oz. parmesan, shredded
½ tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste

Parmesan Crusted Pesto Chicken 2In a food processor, process basil, garlic, oil and balsamic together until basil is crushed. Pour marinade over chicken, and mix in shredded parmesan, salt and pepper. Heat skillet to medium-high, and sear chicken for 3-4 minutes per side until nicely brown. Cook in oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Enjoy!