Parmesan Pesto Chicken with Herb-Stuffed Brussel Sprouts

Pesto Chicken and Brussel Sprouts

Trying to recover from all the cookies and carbs you devoured over the holidays but still craving the rich flavors?  Here’s a new recipe I created for you to try this weekend that is loaded with tastiness and nutrients.  Seriously, I could not stop saying “mmm!” the entire time I was eating this (and then again when I ate the leftovers), just ask my husband.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Pesto Chicken Thighs

One of the “Four Pillars of Authentic Cuisine” I discussed in yesterday’s post was cooking meat on the bone.  Here’s a great way to put this pillar on your menu.  You’ll need:

  • 10 organic, pasture raised chicken thighs (bone-in with skin)
  • 1/2 cup of pesto (see recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated organic Parmesan cheese
  • juice from 1-2 organic lemon(s)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper (around 1 tablespoon of each)

To make a batch of pesto, combine 2 cups fresh, washed basil leaves with two cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of pine nuts or raw almonds, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper in a food processor and chop until a smooth paste.  Then put in an airtight container and store in the freezer.  I store it in small 1/2 cup containers and just take it out to thaw whenever I need it for a recipe.

For the chicken, first rinse the chicken thighs and put them skin up into a 9×13 glass baking dish (line with foil or spread a thin layer of coconut oil on the bottom for easy clean up).  Next, massage the chicken to separate the skin from the meat and create a little pouch for your pesto mix. Stir the Parmesan cheese into your pesto and then distribute among the chicken thighs, stuffing the mixture into the pouches.  Then, sprinkle your lemon juice over the chicken thighs, along with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Rub all that goodness into the skin a little.  Put into a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, or until browned on the top.  I usually check a little on the early side (because overcooked chicken not only tastes dry but also loses its nutrients) and use a meat thermometer to determine if it’s ready – chicken is perfectly and fully cooked at 165 degrees.

Stuffed Brussel Sprouts

While the chicken is baking, you can make the brussel sprouts side dish.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8ish organic brussel sprouts (mine were small to medium sized and made plenty for two people)
  • 3 tablespoons organic greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoon raspberry-chipotle sauce (optional, but I love the stuff)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (I put my sprouted bread in a food processor for the fresh, cheap kind)

First, boil 4 cups of water and put your washed brussel sprouts in the pot for 1-2 minutes to blanch them.  Basically, when they turn bright green, take them out and put them in a colander to drain them and let cool.  Blanching them makes them easy to cut and core. Once cool, chop the ends off and cut in half. Next, take a paring knife and cut the stem part just enough to where you can pull out the inner part of the sprout, just leaving an outer shell for stuffing. (There’s lots of videos online showing how to do this if you need a better visual.)  After separating the inner sprouts from outer leaves, put the inner parts in a food processor with the garlic and chop until fine.  Then, saute your inner sprouts and garlic in some olive oil until tender.  Once cooked, mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix everything together. Lastly, fill the sprout shells with the mixture, overfilling each a little bit and arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Put in the oven with your chicken (375 degrees) for 10-15 minutes, until the tops and outer shells are browned.

Happy Cooking!

– Christine


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