I’ve noticed an evolution in the kitchen dynamics between Jenn and I throughout the last several months. I usually cook during the week (mostly simple dishes, I promise you) and Jenn tackles more complex dishes during the weekend. As I have started cooking more, I’ve noticed that the types of food I am creating are slowly getting more involved. It’s been very unexpected to me because I never thought I would actually get to a skill level where I could accomplish a task of cooking a satisfying tasty meal, let alone one someone else could enjoy. As I progress, I am finding myself thinking more about what I want to cook and putting more of myself into the dishes – Jenn is always talking about how cooking is an emotional process, and I’m finally starting to see exactly what she means.
When I think about my favorite types of cuisine, I always come back to Italian flavors. There is just something about the combination of spices and herbs that keep drawing me back, very similarly to the comfort foods that I remember growing up. You should have seen the look on my face when Jenn made her gluten-free pizza. I think I reverted back to my 4 year old self and acted like I just received my first “big boy bike.” In fact, I can still remember when I got my first bike. It was a “big wheels.” For everyone out there who doesn’t remember “big wheels,” they are basically a plastic tricycle and mine had GI-Joe stickers so I could use it on missions to save the world. When my parents gave it to me I lit up light a Christmas tree and couldn’t wait to take it outside and try it out. Of course, my idea of trying it out was riding the bike through the house and adventurously taking it down a flight of stairs. I didn’t say I was the smartest kid. The way I reacted to my new bike was very similar to my feelings about having fantastic new food to enjoy.
Whoever invented the phrase “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” surely had me in mind, because for me food can evoke some very powerful memories and feelings, even if a dish is completely new to me. I can’t help it though, being able to eat certain foods that I have been away from for so long has a way of making me a little nostalgic – it’s one of the things I love about food, and about cooking.
So, in the spirit of Italian cuisine, I created this pesto chicken dish that combines several flavors to make a mouth watering meal you will want to make over and over again. This will remain a staple for me for a long time, and I hope it does for you too.
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups onions, chopped
4 chicken breasts
1 cup of your favorite pesto
2 red bell peppers or whatever color you want, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
6-7 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
rice or quinoa
Grated cheese to top, I used pecorino but your favorite mild cheese would work great
1. Sauté garlic and onions in a pan until softened, then add chicken breasts and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add in pesto to season the chicken and onions.
3. Add in red peppers, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes,basil and thyme
4. Cover and cook for 10-15 min.
5. Start cooking rice or quinoa according to package directions.
6. When finished, plate pesto chicken on top of rice or qunioa
7. Add cheese to the top