Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cilantro Pepita Pesto and Spiced Stuffed Chicken

This stuffed chicken was phenomenal! It started out with just an idea and snowballed into this delicious savory and flavor-filled entree. The Accompany it alongside some pesto potatoes, salad, or roasted vegetables and you will have a complete healthy  and very satisfying meal. In fact, the husband requested it again for lunch the next day :)
The pesto sauce alone is delicious and can be used for a number of dishes, pairing it with shrimp, pasta, sandwiches, pizza, you name it. 

Stuffed Chicken: (serves 2)
2 chicken breast
1 cheese slice, cut in half
1 cup spinach
1/2 mushrooms
1-2 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp Cilantro Lime Pepita Pesto

Chicken Marinade:
generous dash of paprika
1-2 tsp olive oil
pinch of garlic salt
1 lime, juiced

Cilantro Pepita Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh cilantro, rinsed & stem removed
3 medium garlic cloves
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 olive oil
1 serrano pepper, seeded (leave in for more heat if you prefer) & chopped
1 tbs lime juice
pinch of salt

First, make marinade by combining all ingredients together in a bag or tupper ware. Remove any fat from the chicken breast and place in the bag and cover with marinade. Let rest for at least 20 minutes in the marinade.
Next, begin making the pesto sauce. Prepare the ingredients as needed. Pulse pepita seeds first until form crumbles but not powder. Then combine remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Note: in a blender, you may need to scrape the sides.
Once the chicken is done marinading, preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the chicken breasts until slightly cooked on both sides, about 5-10 minutes total. Remove from skillet & set aside. Add a little olive oil if necessary to the pan and toss in mushrooms and garlic, cook for about 3 minutes. Slice the chicken breast along the side, but being careful not to slice all the way through leaving a slit or pocket to stuff.
Now assemble to stuff the chicken breast, begin with 1/2 mushroom & garlic mixture, then 1/2 cup spinach, cilantro, and lastly 1/2 slice of cheese on top. Squish it all in there as it will hardly fit, but will cook down once in the oven. Place in the oven to cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through.
To serve, top with Cilantro Pepita Pesto and sprinkle with pepita seeds. 

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