I’m kind of obsessed with pesto. While visiting Italy with my husband a few summers ago, I had an amazing batch of homemade genovese pesto. It was mind blowing. We were visting Cinque Terre and we stopped at a little mom and pop outdoor restaurant that looked over the Italian Riviera coastline. The restaurant coated fresh octopus and pasta with their basil infused sauce. It was heaven in a bite. From that moment I was hooked. I knew that I had to create my own version.
Keeping with the theme of my healthy blog, I knew I wanted to lighten it up a bit without losing the flavor. This is no easy task – but believe me this pesto is super flavorful. My husband said its the best pesto he has ever had! I used all fresh ingredients – including spinach – and added a little bit of crushed red pepper for an extra zing. It’s honestly so easy to make fresh pesto, after trying out this recipe you may never buy the store bought kind again. All you do is throw all of the ingredients into a blender and voila! You have amazing homemade pesto.
Looks delicious, right? So the recipe in entirety with the chicken and quinoa is a great one time dinner or meal prep food. I personally meal prep this and heat it up throughout the week for a very healthy and tasty lunch or dinner option. It reheats very well! There’s a little over 400 calories in this meal with a heavy hand of protein between the quinoa and chicken. I hope you love it as much as I do!
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 handful of fresh basil
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 C parmesan cheese
- 1 oz walnuts
- 1 T lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves - minced
- 2 lbs chicken breast
- 1 1/2 C quinoa
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or spray with olive oil/nonstick spray.
- Place individual chicken breasts in a ziplock bag. Using your fist, meat mallet, or a rolling pin, hammer the breasts flat individually for even cooking.
- Remove chicken from ziplock bag and cut each breast in half.
- Line chicken on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes. Flip breasts and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
- Let chicken rest. Once cooled, slice chicken into bite sized strips.
- Rinse Basil and Pesto.
- Mince garlic.
- In a blender, place spinach, basil, olive oil, crushed red pepper, sea salt, black pepper, parmesan cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, and garlic.
- Blend/pulse ingredients until they form a paste. There shouldn't be any large chunks.
- Transfer pesto to a storage container and place in refrigerator.
- Follow directions on your quinoa box OR combine 1.5 C quinoa with 2.5 C water in a saucepan. Bring water to a boil.
- Once water is boiling cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- When done, the grain appears soft and translucent, and the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain.
- Combine a heaping 1/4 C scoop of quinoa into a bowl.
- Top quinoa with 3.5 ounces of cooked chicken breast.
- Top chicken with 2 T of homemade pesto.
Fat: 16.4 G Protein: 39.3 G Carbs: 27 G Sugar: 0.3 G Fiber: 4.2 G