Thursday, 14 April 2011

Bullet Pesto

Carrie made something to eat recently, and I thought it was my duty to share. You know how it goes. She made a pesto chicken salad. Intrigued? You should be. It was what we call DELICIOUS.

And it was ridiculously easy as well. A few years ago we got one of those Magic Bullets for a gift, and since then we have not bought any salad dressing at all. We’ve made it all ourselves, on the spot, on demand, as needed for each individual salad. You want to know how? Yes, you do. So, here:

INSTANT PESTO CHICKEN SALAD

What you’ll need:

    FOR THE PESTO:

  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • A handful of basil leaves
  • A palmful of grated parmesan cheese
  • A palmful of pine nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    FOR THE SALAD:

  • 1 big chicken breast, raw
  • Some sort of mixed greens, whatever you have on hand (please don’t do iceberg lettuce, though I suppose romaine would be okay)
  • Spinach or baby spinach
  • Gorgonzola or Bleu Cheese in crumble form
  • Grape or smaller cherry tomatoes
  • Pecans, cashews, slivered almonds, or any other nut you happen to have on hand
  • Broccoli stalks (not the tops, just the stems)
  • White or Crimini mushrooms
  • 1 carrot
  • Salt & pepper & garlic powder (or garlic salt) to taste

What you’ll do to make it:

    THE SAUCE:

  • Add the garlic to the magic blender. Pulse it until it’s nicely chopped up. Doesn’t have to be too fine or anything; just get rid o’ the chunks.
  • Toss in the basil, cheese, and nuts. Pour in some olive oil. No, I can’t tell you how much because we never actually measure it. Pulse to combine it all until it starts to smooth out a bit.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, then pulse some more until it gets relatively smooth.
    THE SALAD:

  • Put a li’l bit of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken breast liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pan fry that chicken breast until both sides are golden brown and it’s cooked all the way through. Put it aside to cool.
  • Thinly slice up the mushrooms. Turn the pan down to medium or medium/low. Add a tiny bit more oil or butter to the pan and add your mushrooms. Cook them until they’re nice and soft and cooked. You’ll know when they’re done.
  • While the mushrooms are cooking you prep your salad ingredients. Thinly shred your broccoli stems lengthwise so that they form really thin pieces, like coleslaw. Do the same with your carrot. Slice the tomatoes in half.
  • Once the mushrooms are done, take them off the heat and put them aside to cool. Add the mixed greens in a large bowl. Tear your spinach into it (or just use baby spinach), and add the tomatoes, nuts, Gorgonzola, carrot slaw and broccoli slaw.
  • Dice your cooled chicken breast into 3/4″ cubes. Add it to the bowl. As soon as the mushrooms have cooled down a bit add them as well.
  • Pulse the pesto sauce a couple of more times just to make sure it’s all mixed up, and dump it all over the salad in the bowl. Toss to combine.
  • EAT IT

IT’S DELICIOUS! Here’s a tip to save time: At Trader Joe’s you can buy little bags of pre-shredded broccoli/carrot slaw that is quite good. You can add any other ingredients to the salad if you like. The cooked mushrooms add a really unexpected flavor and texture to the salad, but I suppose you could put them in raw if you like. All the nuts in the recipe can get pretty pricey if you don’t already have them on hand. But you can substitute pretty much any other nut (I don’t recommend peanuts) for the pine nuts in the pesto.

Anyway, not only is it delicious but it’s low-carb if you care about that sort of thing. It’s actually pretty danged healthy, unless you have something against olive oil. There’s quite a bit of olive oil in the pesto, and the chicken and mushrooms are cooked in olive oil. But ask someone from Greece if olive oil is bad for you, and then duck when they try to punch you in the mouth for speaking blasphemy. Dare ya!

Categories: Cooking.

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