Wednesday, after I got home from work and decided NOT to go on a 30-minute run, I figured I should at least find a good recipe to make using the chicken breast I took out for dinner.
Especially since Jason wasn’t going to be home until late (8/9pm), I definitely had time to peruse the different blogs I enjoy to find the perfect recipe!
I find chicken breast a tough subject and here’s why: they really have no flavor on their own so they need bright and strong flavors to make a dish taste great; if you don’t cook it correctly, it gets dry (terrible); you can eat baked chicken only so many times; and finally, it’s innately boring, so you have to spice it up – even more so when you are trying to eat healthy.
I ended up settling on this recipe from PaleOMG. I love this blog by Juli Bauer – so many great recipes. You’ll find the link to the recipe (found on her blog) below.
I prepared the spinach, pesto, and cubed raw chicken in individual bowls.
The pesto was fairly easy (as long as you have the ingredients): I cooked the artichoke hearts (cut in half) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. My pan was getting more brown than the artichokes so I just called it quits and put them in the blender. I blended the artichokes, garlic, cashews, olive oil, vegetable broth, lemon juice, and parsley in my Vitamix. See NOTES below about the basil (I did not have it on hand tonight).
While I was prepping the pesto, I had the squash in the oven baking until soft. Then I scraped the insides with a fork and voila, spaghetti-like strings of squash! Much healthier for us than pasta. I set it aside for later. Also, I did not put anything on the squash – it baked au natural.
The recipe said to use the same pan you used when you cooked the artichoke hearts. Well, I didn’t realize how small my pan was going to end up being, so last minute, I switched to our wok. Much better! I cooked the chicken cubes until they were browned and cooked all the way through. The wok was nice because there was a little liquid that pooled at the bottom and it seemed to keep the chicken moist while it was cooking.
I then added a small amount of the pesto and the spinach and let it cook until wilted. After, I added the rest of the pesto and the spaghetti squash, mixing it all together. If you stop here, it’s a Paleo dish. It’s also gluten-, grain-, and dairy-free.
Because I was cooking for my husband as well, I added a little steamed wild rice to the dish. It’s an accompaniment that you can add or leave off the plate and the meal will still be delicious.
When my husband got home and saw the wok filled with the Artichoke Lemon Pesto Chicken Pasta, he was very excited. He was even more delighted when he tasted how great it was! SUCCESS!!! I know a recipe is great when my husband likes it, especially if it is even slightly Paleo. He already said he’s definitely going to take some leftovers to work tomorrow. Honestly, so am I.
I did not have walnuts on hand so I substituted cashews. I haven’t tasted it with walnuts, but I don’t see the change being that big of a difference.
I also was out of fresh basil – I can imagine this did make a big difference, but what are you going to do? I added a few shakes of dried basil, but I really don’t think it did much. I still think it tasted delicious (so did my husband) without the basil. You could taste the artichoke and lemon more. I would, however, love to try it with fresh basil, maybe from my future garden!
The artichoke hearts I used were out of a jar and were in water.
The garlic in my dish is the garlic you find already minced in a jar (in lemon juice). Not ideal I’m sure, but I have to use it up and in every day cooking, it saves a heck of a lot of time in the kitchen.