June in the Kitchen – Pesto Chicken

Pesto Chicken

Pesto Chicken

Once summer begins my thoughts turn to easy, simple dishes that highlight outdoor cooking and the wonderful produce that is available this time of year. That doesn’t mean that a regular weeknight meal needs to be fancy or take time, grilled chicken and a sliced tomato salad sounds like heaven. But, what do you do midweek when you don’t want to fire up the grill and the troops need dinner NOW?


Enter the Breville Panini Press and Grill. I know, you don’t want any more appliances. I understand, I’m trying to cut out unnecessary electric appliances that just sit in the top of my cabinets too. But this one is different. It has earned its keep in my house for quick snacks or dinners, we are now on our second the first having burned out after several years of regular use. It makes the best grilled sandwiches in the world. How would you like a Sunday brunch sandwich with ham and cheese and a fried egg? Yes, us too. And, it grills chicken breasts perfectly without drying them out. You can also use it for chopped meat patties, although I haven’t done that much. What makes it different from other grills is that the top adjusts to the thickness of the food being grilled, you don’t overcook the back corner because the top isn’t flat (that happens in a George Foreman). You can also control the temperature for the food being cooked.

It would make a wonderful wedding gift. It’s great for parties, simply lay out a variety of breads, meats, spreads, and cheeses and let your guests create their own custom paninis. Once cooked, cut them into small pieces and hand them around. Let everyone vote on their favorite combination.

Grilled Chicken with Pesto

Grilled Chicken with Pesto

Grilled Chicken with Pesto

  •  1 chicken breast half for each person, boned but skin on if possible (I used one whole breast with the skin)
  • 1/5 cup of home-made or commercial pesto sauce
  • Extra garlic, minced if you like garlic (unless pesto is freshly made)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. If you love garlic like our family, add an extra minced clove to the pesto. I have pesto in the freezer from last year and it has lost its heat although it is still good. Almost time to make more.
  2. Rub the chicken breast with the pesto, spreading some under the skin. Brush with a olive oil and salt lightly.
  3. Preheat your panini maker or stove top grill.
  4. Add the chicken breast, close the lid and cook until no longer pink in the middle.
  5. This will take about 5-10 minutes on the grill, depending on the thickness of the chicken. If frying in a stove top grill, use medium hight heat and turn after about 10 minutes. If browning too quickly, turn down the heat.
  6. Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes then slice thinly to serve.
Grilled Chicken with Pesto

Grilled Chicken with Pesto

The skin was brown and crisp and the meat still juicy.

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