Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Italian Chicken Skewers

If you have an herb garden, you are probably trying to think of a recipe where you can use all your leftover summer basil. Here’s the answer: pesto. Pick the basil when you are ready to make up a batch; it does not keep in the refrigerator. Try it out on these chicken skewers and add a side of spaghetti squash “noodles”. Go here for directions on how to cook the squash.

Basil Pesto
4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed well
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden, cooled
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
*1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional: for those who still include cheese in their food plan)
Sea salt and pepper

Chicken Skewers
1 large red onion, cut into 1” pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1” pieces
1 lemon
1 ½ pounds chicken tenders
8 wooden or metal skewers. (Soak wooden skewers in a pan of water for 30 minutes before using to prevent burning.)

To prepare the skewers:
Pre-heat the grill. Thread the chicken, onion, and bell pepper onto skewers. Brush with a little olive oil and squeeze a half a lemon over them.
To make the pesto:
Tear basil leaves into pieces and put into food processor. Add the pine nuts, optional cheese if using, garlic and olive oil. Process until a thick paste forms. Add more olive oil if the mixture is too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Do this just before the skewers are ready to cook. The basil will begin to darken as it sits.)

Brush the skewers with some of the pesto and place on the grill. Cook on medium heat until the chicken is done, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and brush with additional pesto, or serve it alongside.

Quick and Easy Variation: Cook the chicken and vegetables in some olive oil in a large skillet. When almost done, squeeze in half a lemon and add some pieces of fresh tomato and the pesto. 

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