Pesto-Chicken Stuffed Peppers
March 13, 2012
As I’m sure you know, foods stuffed with other foods are always better. Same goes for foods wrapped around other foods. Find a way to wrap a food around another food that happens to be stuffed with a third food? Heaven. This “stuff one food with another” thing is common sense as old as food, I’m sure. While I love foods from all over the world, Mediterranean cuisine has always been my favorite, and in honor of my upcoming trip to Italy, I created this recipe for sweet bell peppers stuffed with shredded chicken, roasted zucchini, and my second favorite (after my obsessive love of bagna calda) Italian sauce: pesto. The mix of sweet and savory blending with the peppery herbal flavor of the basil is sure to please.
3 lbs chicken tenderloins (can use boneless, skinless chicken breast, but it’ll take longer, as the tenderloins are thinner cut)
6 small zucchini, 1/4” dice
14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained of their liquid
1 to 1-1/2 cups pesto (recipe to follow)
6 bell peppers (a mix of colors looks nice when plating and offers a wider variety of antioxidants)
3 oz good-quality Parmiggiano cheese, grated (optional)
Heat the oven to 425. Lay the chicken out on a cookie sheet, drizzle on both sides with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. On a separate baking sheet, do the same with the zucchini. Cover the chicken loosely with foil. Put both sheets in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring the zucchini after 20 minutes.
While the chicken and zucchini are roasting, halve the peppers from top to bottom. Use a paring knife to remove the membrane and seeds, but leave the stem on.
When the chicken and zucchini are done (the chicken should be done through, but still moist; the zucchini soft and browning), remove them and turn the oven down to 350. Let the chicken and squash cool enough to handle, then use two forks to shred the chicken. Combine the chicken, zucchini, pesto, and tomato in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly. Use the mixture to stuff the peppers, making sure not to mound them too high (as this will cause them to leak in the oven). Sprinkle the top of each pepper with Parmiggiano, if using. Lay the peppers out on a baking sheet and return to the oven for an hour. Enjoy!
Note: if you have stuffing left over, save it – it makes a great chicken salad.
3 cups basil leaves, more or less, washed and gently dried
1-2 cloves garlic
½ c. nuts (I favor almonds or walnuts for both taste and price)
¾ c. freshly grated parmesan
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. butter, melted
A smidge of salt
Put the leaves in the blender; add the oil, the melted butter and the garlic. Then slowly add the nuts and cheese, taking your time so the blender doesn’t clog.