Tag Archives: parmesan

Pesto

Brrrrr, is it cold today in NYC. The wind is howling, the trees look depressed, and my dog had to get a shot. It’s Sunday, and Sunday is for meal prep. I did a lot of cooking, errands, cleaning, food shopping, and prepping foods for my first week on my new reset; I enjoyed every second. Last night, I had a few friends over for a dinner party, and purchased a carton of basil. A concern I have with basil is, it either gets used, or it doesn’t and goes rotten. I am vowing this year to be more cognizant of the foods in our fridge and do weekly “clean out” meals… so tonight is no exception. Hence, the pesto.

Pesto is a blend of herbs, oils, fats, and of course, basil, as it’s principle ingredient. Nowadays, people toy around with varieties of pesto including spinach pesto, kale pesto, walnut asiago pesto; the list is endless. I’m a traditionalist with a lot of recipes (unless I am making things healthier, hence cassava instead of breadcrumb), and pesto is one that I stick to the basics: garlic, basil, olive oil, and grated parmesan cheese.

I have to admit, I’m biased to pesto because I love the color green, and I also really appreciate the taste and aromas of garlic. Garlic is incredibly powerful and nutritious: it helps with heart disease, cholesterol levels, and is a great brain food too! Basil is one of those ingredients you can never go wrong with as well. To start, I pulled apart 3-4 bushels of basil and ripped the leaves into smaller seconds. I placed these pieces into a small food processor. Then I added in the parmesan (I’d say about 1/3 cup of cheese). I pulsed the processor until the cheese and basil combined and became a rice mixture.

Next, I added in the olive oil. BE GENEROUS HERE. First of all, olive oil is one of the most healthiest things to cook with and eat. If you haven’t already, please watch SALT.FAT.ACID.HEAT on Netflix, the FAT episode talks all about olive oil and its properties. I added the oil and blended in the processor until the consistently became smoother. My last step was to add the minced garlic. I used only two cloves and this was plenty. Pulse the mixture again, and you may need to add more cheese, a touch more oil, etc. until the consistency is to your liking. Me? I like pesto be on the thicker, chunkier side.

Pesto is most often tossed with pasta (show here with organic brown rice pasta from Trader Joe’s), but can be added to fish, chicken, on top of lamb skewers, or on bruschetta toast. Enjoy and NOMaste 🙂

Tuscan Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach

When you think of creamy, cheesy, rich foods, what comes to mind?  I immediately think of a thick cream sauce or a buttery garlic sauce.  Tuscan chicken does a beautiful job of combining strong ingredients and melding them together to create this perfectly decadent sauce to go atop seared chicken.  Of course, throwing a vegetable in like spinach, basil, and sweet roasted peppers only enhances the dish.  This was my FIRST time making this, and I must say, I can’t wait to try this sauce over other proteins soon!IMG_0380.JPG

In preparing for this meal, I had to really think about what makes a creamy sauce, creamy.  Of course, I immediately jumped to heavy cream and cheese.  This is a very traditional way of making a “tuscan” creamy sauce by combining all the dairy components together, simmering on low, and layering it on top of pan seared chicken.  That is exactly what I did.  I started by taking chicken breasts and seasoning them with a generous amount of salt, pepper, and oregano.  I say generous because when chicken breasts cook, they tend to lose all the tenderness, so over-seasoning can capture the juices and make this particular cut of chicken tender and tasty! I heated a pan and then added in some avocado oil (has a higher smoke point and makes food taste badass) and began to pan sear the chicken.  Each side cooked for approximately 4-5 minutes, the chicken will finish cooking when added to the cream sauce.

For the cream sauce, I started with wilting some fresh spinach in 2 tablespoons of butter.  Once the spinach became soft and dark green, I  poured in the heavy cream and parmesan, stirring and letting the sauce bubble.  Once the liquid started to reduce, I added in sweet roasted red peppers and some sprigs of basil.  I mixed it altogether and sprinkled in n some salt and pepper.  Lastly, I added back the chicken and let the entire dish simmer for a few minutes (around 5-7m).

Served with some mashed potatoes, or homemade fries, maybe some brussel sprouts, and you’ve got yourself an awesome sauce (haha, get it?) meal!  Nomaste 🙂

Tuscan Chicken with Spinach and Roasted Peppers

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Comfort, Italian
Keyword Chicken, creamy, parmesan, red peppers, spinach, tuscan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg chicken breasts can buy thin sliced already if desired
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan grated
  • 1 pkg fresh spinach
  • basil leaves
  • 2 halves sweet roasted red peppers from a jar, can slice them
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano

Instructions

  1. Clean and prep chicken breasts (either filet them or pat dry the already filed breasts).  Season with salt, pepper, oregano on both sides.

  2. Heat a large pan on medium, add avocado oil and let coat bottom of pan.  Add in chicken.  Sear on each side for 4-5 minutes until sides are browned. Taken chicken out and set aside.

  3. In the same pan, add the tbsp of butter and melt.  Add in fresh spinach and cook until leaves are wilted. Pour in heavy cream and parmesan cheese.  Mix together and let come to a gentle boil (soft bubbles form).  Simmer on low.

  4. Add in basil and roasted red peppers.  Stir together.  Place chicken into cream sauce and ladle sauce on top of the chicken.  Let simmer for 5-7 minutes.

  5. Serve with favorite side of potatoes, with rice, or simply roasted veggies.