Let’s face it…..most of us have some type of frozen chicken in the freezer. And if you’re anything like me, you cycle through the same type of chicken preparation week after week.
One average weeknight I came home and opened the refrigerator door. I continued to stare inside its contents for a good 5 minutes like it was a TV, desperately trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I’m not ashamed to admit it but there were slim pickings and I needed something to go with the chicken I had pulled out from the freezer earlier that day. I found some cilantro, cheeses, and caught a glimpse of a bag of almonds we had on the counter. Than it hit me—why not try making a Pesto? Almonds are my favorite nut and I thought it would be fun to experiment with them.
I love the bright flavors of cilantro with lime and chose a quick and easy marinade for the chicken. How did it go? Pretty tasty if I do say so myself 🙂 The pesto was extremely bright from the citrus and herbs yet still had that great “nutty” flavor from the almonds. Paired over the extremely juicy and flavorful chicken and we had just kicked up a boring weekday dinner to a fun and unique meal.
Give it a try and enjoy! 🙂
Chili-Lime Chicken with Cilantro-Almond Pesto
Serves approximately 4
4 Chicken Breasts
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Cilantro
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
½ Teaspoon Lime Zest
½ Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Tablespoon Cumin Powder
1 Teaspoon finely diced Jalapeno Pepper
½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
¾ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1½-2 Cups of packed, Chopped Cilantro (approximately 1 bunch)
½ Cup Unsalted, Roasted Almonds
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ Teaspoon Lime Juice
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Place all items for the chicken marinade with the chicken in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Be sure to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating, begin work on the pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and almonds. Add cilantro, cheese, lime juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, add olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired.
Heat grill pan to medium-high. Lightly cover pan with cooking spray. Cook chicken for 7-8 minutes on each side until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from pan and loosely tent with aluminum foil to rest for 5-7 minutes.
Plate chicken and spoon a generous amount of the pesto over it. Serve with a side dish such as a Black Bean and Corn Salad.