What a wonderful way to start off cooking in 2014! I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions, because they never seem to stick, but I do enjoy eating healthily and finding ways to reinvest in healthy cooking. The New Year just happened to coincide with my recommitment.
A few years ago, I was introduced to a wonderful jam maker who had concocted a variation of pesto, which I have since adopted into my entertainment repertoire. Inspiration struck yesterday, and I decided to use it as a stuffing for chicken, and pair it with mashed cauliflower and potatoes, then topped with sautéed vegetables.
Pesto and Sausage-Stuffed Chicken (serves 4)
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 oz. country sausage
- 1/2 jar sundried tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 4-5 basil leaves
- 4 oz. container of crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 squash
- 1 zucchini
- 1/2 bunch Chopped asparagus
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs seasonings of choice (I used the Signature Blend from Spice and Tea)
I’d recommend serving this dish over a starch, like the Garlic Mashed Cauliflower and Potato recipe.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven heats, you’ll prepare the chicken, sausage, and filling. Slice the chicken in half and divide to thin the meat and make pounding easier. Place the chicken in between two layers of wax paper and use the flat side of the meat tenderizer to let out your aggression and beat those birdies until they are nice and thin. This will allow the chicken to cook faster and more evenly with the filling. Set aside.
Take the country sausage and divide into small bits in a saucepan, this will allow the sausage to cook evenly and not stick to each other. Over medium-low heat, cook the sausage until browned and a little pink is left. Stir occasionally to make sure the sausage doesn’t burn. Set sausage aside to let cool.
Making the filling is easiest when using a food processor (which I do not own; I know, sacrilege), but a blender works well too, you may just have to move the ingredients around more often to chop up.
Combine tomatoes through basil leaves into the processor and chop until ingredients are finely chopped. Add in feta and olive oil and chop on pulse until well blended.
Mix the pesto and sausage together, then layer onto the chicken breasts. Make sure to keep the filling thin and away from the edges so the chicken isn’t over-stuffed. Fold the edge of chicken over and create a roll. Place in the oven and bake for 30 min. Some ovens run hotter than others, so check on the chicken often to make sure it’s not over cooked. A handy trick is to use a fork and puncture the skin, and if clear liquid is coming out, then it’s ready.
While the chicken cooks, prepare the veggies using the same saucepan for cooking the sausage. The vegetables don’t need long to cook, so I would recommend waiting until the chicken is almost done to begin.
Add olive oil and bring to a medium-low heat. Start with the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, stirring occasionally, then add the other vegetables. I tend to like extra olive oil, so I added another teaspoon (or so) as the vegetables sautéed, then tossed in the seasonings. Once the mushrooms have started to shrink and the asparagus is just tender, the vegetables are ready for a splash of drippings.
When the chicken is ready, remove from the oven and keep nearby. Take a few drippings of oil (2-3 tbs) and toss in with the vegetables, and also coat over the chicken. Dinner is ready!