Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red Pepper Pesto & Chicken

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Happy Valentine's Day!  On this special day, I made my husband's favorite meal.  It's my own creation and I almost hate giving this recipe out; it took me quite a long time to perfect, but since I'm food blogging, I have to write about all of it.  I've never written down amounts, but I've got it dialed in pretty good.  So, here we go!

Start by roasting the red bell pepper and garlic:
5-8 red bell peppers (I get them from Costco, way cheaper than the grocery store)
light olive oil
salt and pepper
whole head of garlic

Preheat oven to 400.  Place the peppers on a cookie sheet (might want to line with foil if you don't want to scrub), drizzle with light olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  The head of garlic goes in the tin foil with a drizzle of light olive oil.   Cook about 20-30 minutes and flip.  Cook about 10-15 minutes more.  Note: you can also do this under the broiler (will cook less time and blackening of the skin is ok).  In the summer I do this on the grill.  When using the grill the garlic goes on the upper rack.
This is when I start the brown rice since it takes about an hour.  Take the peppers out of the oven (or off the grill), put them in a bowl and cover tightly for about 10-15 minutes.  This lets them steam so it's easier to pull the skins off.  At this point, I open the foil on the garlic and put it in the fridge until I'm ready to use it.  Remove the cover from the peppers, start sliding the skin off when they are cool enough to handle. 

While the peppers are roasting I start adding the other ingredients to the food processor.
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a small skillet.
  • About 1 cup fresh basil leaves (a little more or less depending on your taste)
  • 5-10 olives - this kind specifically (secret ingredient) - I buy them at Costco, they only carry them about twice per year so I stock up. If you can't find, or don't have this brand, leave the olives out.
  • About 1/4 cup balsamic vingear
  • About 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Add bell peppers after skinned
  • Squeeze in all of the roasted garlic
Pulse about 10-15 seconds, then taste for seasoning
Pulse another 10-15 seconds
Put the pesto in a skillet, warm on low heat while the chicken cooks.

For the chicken:
2-4 boneless skinless chicken breast
Light olive oil
salt and pepper

Season chicken breast with oil, salt and pepper - grill until cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Serve topped with grated parmesan

Notes: some of the oil in this recipe is light olive oil, since extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has a lower smoke point it burns easily which is why I use the light oil in higher heat situations such as grilling and broiling. 
For my vegetarian friends, this is really good without the chicken.


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