Pistachio Pesto (feat. Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce)

Hello, food blogosphere! With this entry I can cement my contributor status, as this means I am finally contributing something. Anyone who has known me as long as Megan has knows my one food nemesis: pine nuts. (I’m allergic.) Now, I’m not one to go around feeling sorry for myself (lies) but today, I mourn all the years I have gone without the taste of pesto, as I tend to avoid it at restaurants. Since I never knew how lovely it tastes, it never occurred to me to make it my damn self. [Megan, am I allowed to say damn on the blog?]

I recently heard someone say they had made pesto sauce with pistachios instead of pine nuts, and it was just an easy-dinner kind of day, so I decided to try it out. All you really need to do is run a food processor and boil up some pasta and you get an incredibly flavorful dinner in a matter of minutes! LOVES IT! (I do want to apologize for not having a more impressive dish, but baby steps, people.)

PISTACHIO PESTO

Ingredients

  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves (make sure there’s no excess water)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup roasted pistachios
  • 1 clove garlic [I used 2… I love garlic]
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Using blender or food processor, add pistachios and garlic clove(s) and blend for a few seconds.

Add basil and parmesan cheese, blend. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the contents reach desired consistency.

Yields about 1 cup.

I’m boring, so I used the pesto for pasta (about 1.5 pounds of cooked pasta; enough to serve 6), but I’ve seen it used in a fingerling potato/haricots verts salad and as a garnish for soup. You can also use it as a spread on pizza, sandwiches, use it to top crostini for appetizers… so many possibilities! Refrigerate or freeze to store.

And because I feel like it’s too much of a tease to post the photo of the chicken and not tell you how to make it, you get a two-fer with this post! Wahoo! I feel a little like Oprah… (*You* get a recipe and *you* get a recipe… EVERYONE! GETS! A RECIPEEEE!)

This is a recipe I got from an Italian-American colleague of mine, modified a little bit by me. Because I think I’m cool like that, I guess.

CHICKEN WITH LEMON-CAPER SAUCE

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • large pinch of chopped flat (Italian) parsley
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained

Method

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge 2 pieces of chicken in flour and place in hot skillet. (Make sure it’s *hot* and not just heating up, so it browns better!) Cook about 8 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to warm platter. Add more oil if necessary and repeat with remaining chicken.

After chicken is done, brown the butter in the skillet. (I found a pretty good how-to page at allrecipes.com)  Lower the heat and add lemon juice (this will stop the butter from continuing to brown), lemon zest, capers and parsley. Add salt and pepper if desired. Remove from heat. Spoon over chicken and serve.

(The original recipe called for a couple tablespoons of shallots, as well, but the capers taste so strong that the omission didn’t make a huge difference.)

And there you have it!

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