ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Food and Cooking»
  • Main Dish & Side Dish Recipes»
  • Chicken Recipes

Weeknight Wonderful: Baked Pesto Chicken!

Updated on April 6, 2016

Weeknight Wonderful: Baked Pesto Chicken!

It was 7:30 a.m.on the Monday morning after Easter break when I looked in my freezer to take out something, anything, for dinner that night. All I could see that I could make something edible with very little fuss was boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

We probably have chicken breasts, one way or another, at least once a week. That's a minimum of 52 times a year. Sure, there would be some recipes that I'd repeat a few times over the course of the year, but week to week? It can be a bit challenging giving a new twist to the same ol', same ol'. As I stood there waiting for my green tea to brew, my youngest daughter, post three junior high costume, uh, I mean 'outfit', changes, came into the kitchen. 'Oh...we're having chicken for dinner?'. Well, yes, my princess slash genius daughter, that's the plan! (I"m not fit to look at until I have my morning green tea, what can I say?). With that, without missing a beat she asks, 'What 'kind' of chicken?'. Now, you'd think after spending her entire 12 years of life with me she'd know better than to ask me a question that leaves the door wide open for a sarcastic response, but nope! "I was thinking we'd have the kind of chicken that clucks and has feathers, but I'm open to suggestions". She was un-amused.

Baked Pesto Chicken with Potato Green Pepper Hash

Baked Pesto Chicken with Potato Green Pepper Hash and a side Spinach Salad.
Baked Pesto Chicken with Potato Green Pepper Hash and a side Spinach Salad.

The Hunt for Inspiration

Once I had downed my green tea, I rummaged through the refrigerator on the hunt for inspiration. While going to the grocery store is truly one of my favorite things to do, I try to be budget conscious and before trekking through aisle after aisle of deliciousness, I thought it best if I checked out what I had on hand thereby possibly having no need to spend more money.

What I found was a medium sized beefeater tomato, some mozzarella cheese and a jar of pesto. I just adore pesto, particularly since I discovered that it's not just for pasta. I've used pesto in meatballs, sandwiches, salads, pizza, with seafood and even in quesadillas! Pesto adds un-equaled sensuous and aromatic flavor to just about everything. Somehow, some way, I was going to incorporate pesto into dinner...I just wasn't completely sure how. Then, while standing in the shower, it struck me: Baked Pesto Chicken topped with mozzarella cheese, diced tomatoes and maybe some herbs like basil and parsley! It would work, I was sure it would!

Baked Pesto Chicken, Part 1

I decided to coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the pesto and then realized that, if I was going to bake them, I should probably line my baking sheet with some parchment paper because no doubt, the pesto would run all over the place. While the oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, I slathered, which is a highly technical cooking term for 'generously coated'. the chicken breasts on both sides with pesto, about 1 Tbsp pesto per side. I then placed the slathered chicken breasts onto the lined baking sheet.

Pesto coated chicken breasts ready for the oven
Pesto coated chicken breasts ready for the oven

Baked Pesto Chicken Part 2

I decided not to put the mozzarella cheese and tomatoes on the pesto coated chicken breasts right away because I wanted the cheese to be gooey not crispy. But after the chicken breasts had been baking for 30 minutes, I removed the baking sheet from the oven and working quickly, topped each chicken breast with some grated mozzarella cheese, then diced tomatoes, sprinkled on some finely chopped fresh basil and Italian parsley for good measure, and topped it all off with a little more mozzarella cheese, hoping that the mozza on top would hold the tomatoes and herbs in place on top of the chicken while they cooked in the oven for another 25 minutes or so.

Baked Pesto Chicken half way through the baking process
Baked Pesto Chicken half way through the baking process
Baked Pesto Chicken topped with grated mozzarella, diced tomato and finely chopped fresh basil and Italian Parsley ready for the second baking
Baked Pesto Chicken topped with grated mozzarella, diced tomato and finely chopped fresh basil and Italian Parsley ready for the second baking

Baked Pesto Chicken

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 55 min
Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
Yields: 4 servings

Baked Pesto Chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Baked Pesto Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Season both sides of chicken breasts lightly with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Spread approximately 1 Tbp pesto onto each side of chicken breasts and place on lined baking sheet.
  3. Baked in preheated oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, working quickly but carefully, remove chicken breasts from oven and top chicken breasts with half the grated mozzarella, then diced tomato and finely chopped herbs, finally topping with remaining grated mozzarella cheese.
  4. Return baking sheet to oven and continue baking chicken for another 25 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

Baked Pesto Chicken

Hot out of the oven, ooey gooey yummy Baked Pesto Chicken
Hot out of the oven, ooey gooey yummy Baked Pesto Chicken

After a total cooking time of 55 minutes, my Baked Pesto Chicken was ready to serve. During the second baking, I whipped up a hash of potato, green pepper and onion, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese and made a simple spinach salad topped with a white wine vinaigrette.

The aroma in my kitchen was simply fabulous, no other way to describe it! The chicken breasts were moist and tender and deeply flavored from the pesto, while blanketed in ooey gooey wonderful melted mozzarella cheese. The diced tomato and fresh herbs added a little more 'oomph' and overall, this dish got a two thumbs up rating from my family, (and me!).

Baked Pesto Chicken

Baked Pesto Chicken with Potato Green Pepper Hash and a side spinach salad
Baked Pesto Chicken with Potato Green Pepper Hash and a side spinach salad

Baked Pesto Chicken

Cast your vote for Baked Pesto Chicken

Baked Pesto Chicken

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 chicken breast
Calories 440
Calories from Fat153
% Daily Value *
Fat 17 g26%
Saturated fat 5 g25%
Unsaturated fat 1 g
Carbohydrates 8 g3%
Sugar 3 g
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 62 g124%
Cholesterol 153 mg51%
Sodium 396 mg17%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Baked Pesto Chicken

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 17 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      Baked chicken super yummy

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 17 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      Baked food are still the best