After Monday night’s disaster of a meal (again, I am being dramatic) I was a little worried about trying another new recipe for last night’s dinner. But luckily, it turned out GREAT and we loved it! Phew, crisis averted. Now, I will tell you upfront that I spent a solid two hours getting this all ready – but that was merely because this was my first time doing all of this stuff.
As a time saver, the next time we are at the Farmer’s Market I am going to buy a butt-load (technical measurement term) of basil and just make pesto ahead of time. My grandma says it freezes and thaws very easily (and I believe everything that woman tells me, especially when it comes to the kitchen!) – so that’s my plan. I probably would also leave out the artichoke next time too – the only reason we made it was because we had gotten one at the Farmer’s Market (again, trying to be adventurous) and we weren’t realizing that what we really wanted were artichoke hearts. And because we only bought one, we only had one heart… anyway, they were really good but it was one of those things that took a decent amount of time to cook and you don’t really get much out of it.
Enough of my blabbing – onto the meal! Which was Zoodles w/ chicken in a pesto sauce. Let me also say one more thing: zoodles are my new favorite thing. I suggest that you stop reading this right now (just for a moment), go to amazon.com and order a julienne peeler. 8 of the best dollars I’ve spent – seriously. I am not going to go extreme and say something like I am never going to eat regular pasta again, but I am going to say that I am not going to wonder how I can make my favorite pasta dishes healthier. Can you say, shrimp scampi? Chicken piccatta? Spaghetti and meatballs? Heaven.
- 1 bunch of basil leaves
- 1/3 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 T chopped garlic
- 1 jumbo (or 2 large) zucchini
- 1 artichoke
- 2 chicken breasts (seasoned with your choice – I did crushed red pepper, tomato basil, and a little italian seasoning)
First thing I did was make the pesto incase it came out like, uh – pardon my french, shit. (It didn’t!!) Clean basil and remove the leaves from the stems (and enjoy the smell), throw basil, cashews, olive oil and 2 T of garlic (the rest will be used later) into the magic bullet. I would also suggest adding in 2 T of lemon juice and some salt/pepper to taste. Use the cross blade and blend for about 2 minutes or until smooth, then set aside until later.
For the artichoke, I cut it in half and scooped out the inside portion (it’s purple and fuzzy, so don’t eat that), then I rubbed the other 2 T of garlic on the inside of both halves. Put a pot of water on high heat and once it is boiling place the artichokes in a steam basket and cover for 30-45 minutes or until you can pierce the stem easily with a fork.
Chicken…just dice it and cook it. Or cook it then dice it – get crazy!
Now, my favorite part… ZOODLES!!! Wash the zucchini and start peeling. (Please do not touch the pointy part of the peeler, it hurts and it causes you to bleed and stop what you’re doing to get a band-aid…at least that’s what I’m guessing would happen.) Continue peeling all the way around the zucchini, constantly rotating it, until you see the seeds of the zucchini. You can chop that up and use it in a salad or soup or a dip like I did (recipe later!). Place a large pot of water on high heat, once at a boil drop the zoodles in and let cook for 3-5 minutes. (I did 4 and tested it before I took them out, they still had a little crunch – which is what I wanted).
Then it’s COMBO TIME! Throw the pesto into the pot with the zoodles (water drained, hopefully you realized that already) and mix, then add the chicken and mix again. Serve it into a bowl and VIOLA!
I wouldn’t consider this a “easy weeknight meal” but it is definitely a simple way to get an elegant-ish meal! I dare ya to try it!