This Week + Go To Meal: Pesto Pasta

This week, Shaun and I used up what we had in our refrigerator and pantry because I refused to go food shopping on Sunday.

note to self: don't leave half opened anything in cabinets. Unless you want some tiny little bugs crawling around on your food. Ack.

The heat {finally} broke and we slept with the windows open last night; me with double blankets, Shaun with none.

We still have a terrace visitor. And we're still mildly obsessed wit him/her.

I've been engrossed in a new book series. Well, new to me. My cousin Veronica demanded recommended that I read the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. Has anyone read these? DarkFever, BloodFever, etc? Although I wasn't so into it at the beginning, I've now plowed through the first two and can't wait to see what happens next! I just downloaded FaeFever onto my Kindle and can't wait to dig in on the train today!

 

I decided that after making my Fall mood board, I need to own Essie's Glamour Purse. ASAP.

Shaun and I whipped up another easy go-to meal.

It's pesto pasta! We had a ton of basil in our urban herb garden, so for a quick fix, I've been making up batches of oil-free pesto. You can easily freeze these for the colder months. Simply defrost, mix with pasta and top with parmegiano reggiano. Easy, quick and healthy...a perfect go-to dinner!

Oil-Free Pesto
*Adapted from Weight Watchers
2 Tbsp walnuts, lightly toasted   
2 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C reduced-sodium chicken broth   
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese   
1 garlic clove 
1/2 tsp table salt  

Process ingredients altogether in food processor (or blender) until smooth. Mix with cooked pasta and top with extra parm if you'd like. {I like} I'm newly obsessed with Ronzoni Garden Delight. Isn't it pretty?

Eat that up.

 So that's what's going on with me this week.

Questions of the Day:

What are you reading right now?

What's happening with you this week?

Any weekend plans?

 

psst...we're dishing up the peaches and pits of the week today! Check it out!

Provolone Stuffed Chicken with Pesto & Quinoa

Though our beautiful herb garden kicked the proverbial bucket during this extremely hot summer combined with our constant vagabond state, we do have one potted sweet basil plant that is alive and well.

Since we had accumulated lots of leaves, all looking ripe and ready to eat, I thought that a quick and easy pesto was just the ticket to a simple, yet flavorful Monday dinner. By substituting traditional pine nuts with walnuts that we already had on hand, this dish was comprised of all work with what we have ingredients.

This dish was really a team effort. While I made the pesto, Shaun cooked up an idea to turn the ordinary chicken breasts from bland and boring to juicy and mmmm-inducing. Rather than simply grill up the chicken, he seasoned and stuffed them with a slice of provolone cheese, adding that extra oomph that rounded out the dish.

Provolone Stuffed Chicken with Pesto & Quinoa
For the chicken:
1 lb chicken breasts (3-4 pieces)
3-4 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
kosher salt or Lawry's seasoning salt
black pepper
toothpicks
For the pesto:
2 C fresh basil
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C walnuts, lightly toasted
1 small clove garlic
1/2 C parmesean or peccorino, grated
For the quinoa:
1 C organic, dried quinoa
1 14oz can low sodium chicken broth

Get your grill heated and ready. Butterfly the chicken breasts, stuff with provolone cheese and secure with toothpicks to keep it all together. Season with salt and pepper and grill. Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the basil leaves, lightly toasted walnuts (you can just toss these in a small skillet for a few minutes until they are fragrant - but don't let them burn!), and one small garlic clove. Note: I used two large garlic cloves and was tasting garlic for the next 24 hours. Unless you’re trying to keep those hot vampires away, then I recommend using at least half as much garlic as I did.

Pulse until combined. With the motor running, add 1/2 C olive oil and process until smooth. Add salt to taste, but keep in mind that you will also be adding grated cheese so don't over do it!

Remove from the processor and stir in the grated cheese. This will soak up some of the excess oil and give it that extra depth of deliciousness.

Meanwhile, rinse your quinoa thoroughly. I used a sieve to rinse mine. Next, combine this in a saucepan with one can of low sodium chicken broth and 1/4C of water. Bring it all to a boil and then simmer until the quinoa has soaked up all the liquid. Follow the package directions for cooking time - mine took about 15 minutes.

Once chicken is grilled, serve over quinoa and slather some pesto on top. The result is nothing short of mouthwatering. In fact, Shaun and I agreed that this is one of our best creations yet.

So there you have it. A homemade Monday night dinner that was not only full of flavor but healthy to boot. And the fact that we used homegrown basil - that was F-R-E-E, I might add - was just the icing on the cake. I've never had a dish taste so fresh and look so green! And what I'd love to know is, do you cook with fresh ingredients? Have you ever tried quinoa? It was our first foray and I'm converted!

Psst...want to know how to make your own herb garden, just about anywhere? Check out this article.