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Monday, January 25, 2010

Pesto Stuffed Chicken

By now if you've been following this blog you know that I don't do anything bland. This dish is no exception. I am on a mission to prove that paleo style eating does not have to be all about eating the same boring thing day after day. There are infinite possibilities and I'm just starting to scratch the surface.

As usual, this recipe was not planned out. I was at Sprout's Market getting a few things. I was reaching for the kale and these giant trays of basil started flying off the shelf all over the floor. I think it was divine intervention. Either that or it was just me being extraordinarily clumsy with my reach causing a landslide of basil along with a few loathful stares from nearby patrons. I don't even like basil but after that showing I resigned to put a few in my cart while trying to make it look like I had planned the basil explosion all along. I don't think I pulled it off.

So I get home and I have all this basil along with a bruised ego. What does one make with basil that does not have a giant slab of fresh mozzarella along side it? My answer was pesto... Yuck... pesto. But by this time I was committed. I despise pesto. How can I change it up? And then it came to me. Spinach, pine nuts, garlic, sun dried tomato. You've heard those ingredients before. Well, that's cuz they're my favorites. I cut the "basily" strength way down by using spinach. My experiment worked. Not only did it work, this is my new favorite dish. I hope you will feel that way too.

What you'll need:
1 packed cup basil
1packed cup spinach
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 jar sundried tomatoes in olive oil (8oz)
olive oil
4 free range chicken breasts
3/4 cup low sodium, gluten free chicken broth
1 lemon

What you do:
Place your pine nuts in a dry and hot skillet. Stir them around until they become toasty brown and then remove them from the heat. Pay attention! They burn easily. Prepare the pesto. It doesn't matter if you have a blender or a food processor, either work. Put the first five ingredients into the bowl of the processor and pulse/blend until you have a paste like consistency. You may need to stream in a little more olive oil than what is in the tomato jar to achieve a smooth pesto. Take a long, deep smell. Feel the stress of the day leave your body. Resist the urge to give yourself a pesto facial. You'll need every drop for the chicken.

Now for the chicken. Take one chicken breast and slice all the way through the center of it horizontally. You should have two very thin chicken breasts now. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Take your meat mallet and with the flat side pound out the chicken to about 1/4 inch thickness. The trick here is to make SMALL chicken rolls (like the size of a roll of quarters). You want three or four on a plate so you may need to cut the chicken in half vertically to make small enough pieces. Ok, so you have your chicken all pounded flat and each piece is cut about the size of a deck of cards. Throw a little cracked pepper over the chicken. Take a heaping tablespoon of pesto and slather it all over one side of the chicken like you're buttering bread. Sorry, bad analogy. Now, ever so gently roll the chicken up like a jelly roll... oooh, did it again. Secure the seam with a couple of toothpicks.

Get your pan hot with olive oil and place the chicken with the seam side down into the pan. Yes, you can cook the toothpicks too. Brown it for a couple of minutes and then turn it over. After both sides are browned turn the chicken over one more time (seam side down) and pour 3/4 cup of chicken broth into the pan. Watch out for the sizzle. Cover the pan and turn down the heat to medium-low. Let those little babies simmer for about 6 minutes. When you lift the lid you will notice that some of the pesto that has fallen out of the chicken and the stock have made a heavenly sauce purely by accident. Do not... I repeat... do not go face first into the pan when you are overcome with desire for the exquisite meal you just made. First of all it's not polite to lick every one's meal and secondly plastic surgery is expensive.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon.


  1. Hi, this recipe sounds great and I would love to make it. Unfortunately, I cannot see all the lines in your post. Is there a way for me to give you my email address so you can send me the recipe instead?

  2. Hi there J.! you can try your refresh button and if that doesn't work you can email me at I will try to alter it to the small font. Sometimes that helps.
    You can also friend me on facebook. My name is Stephanie Amato from Orange County, CA