Avocado-Pesto Stuffed Peppers

I made this finger food at my last girl’s night for a healthy twist on our typical wine and cheese night. The mix of avocado and pesto might be my new favorite combo!

Avocado-Pesto Stuffed Peppers

avocado pesto stuffed peppers

Ingredients

  • mini sweet bell peppers
  • ripe avocados
  • tablespoons of your favorite pesto
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Cut the stems off of the peppers and use a spoon to remove the seeds.
  2. In a bowl with a fork (or in a food processor) mash up the avocados and pesto until creamy. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Using a big ziplock bag with the corner snipped off (the stronger freezer bags work the best), pipe the mixture into mini sweet bell peppers and enjoy!

Recipe source: http://food52.com/recipes/22340-avocado-pesto-stuffed-peppers

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Healthy Pesto Chicken Bake

Another great twist on chicken parm. Turning the red sauce into pesto and adding fresh tomatoes makes this American classic easy to enjoy guilt-free!

Healthy Pesto Chicken Bake

healthy pesto chicken bake

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 4-6 Tablespoons Prepared Pesto
  • 1-2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated

Directions

  1. Trim the chicken and lay them in a glass baking dish in a single layer.
  2. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the pesto on top of each chicken breast.
  3. Cut the roma tomatoes into slices approx 1/2″ thick and lay 2 slices on top of each chicken breast.
  4. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the chicken breasts.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is done and the juices run clear.
  6. Serve over a bed of rice or a plate of pasta. Enjoy!

Recipe source: http://www.thepinningmama.com/2014/09/21/easy-dinner-recipe-italian-chicken-bake/

Pesto Pasta Bake

I have been really into bakes lately and this one is one of my favorites. The original recipe has you making your own pesto, but with my busy schedule I just used pre-made pesto. The best thing about bakes is that you can add whatever you have on hand to make this dish suitable to your tastebuds. You can add artichokes, different cheeses, a different tubular pasta, really whatever you have on hand.
Pesto Pasta Bake
pesto pasta bake
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
  • 2-3 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups of chopped spinach
  • ½ cup pasta water
  • ½ cup shredded cheese of choice (I used mozzarella)
  • pesto (as much or as little as you like)

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, chop up the tomatoes and spinach and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cooked noodles with the chopped tomatoes, pesto, and a little pasta water if it needs to be more saucy. I usually had enough pesto to coat all the pasta. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Recipe source: http://pinchofyum.com/healthy-baked-pesto-rigatoni

Lemon Cumin Chicken with Homemade Pesto

I love finding recipes that turn chicken into something spectacular. This dish does just that! The homemade pesto is so delicious, and what I love about pesto is you can use it on absolutely anything! I love to make pesto in abundance and use it throughout the week.

Lemon Cumin Chicken with Homemade Pesto

lemon cumin chicken with homemade pesto

Ingredients

Marinade:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Four 4- to 6-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
Pesto:
1 1/2 packed cups fresh mint leaves (about 1 large bunch)
1 packed cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Cook’s Note)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 a large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Directions
For the marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper flakes until smooth. Add the chicken and toss until coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (Can also be made in a resealable plastic bag.)

For the pesto: In a food processor, blend the mint, spinach, cheese, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper until chunky. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Spray the grill lightly with vegetable oil cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Grill the chicken until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Place on a platter and serve with the pesto.

Recipe source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/lemon-cumin-chicken-recipe.html

Basil Chicken Parm

Are you a fan of chicken parm? Then you have to try this recipe!

This recipe puts a new twist on chicken parm. Instead of using marinara sauce, it uses basil pesto! Mmm! Using the basil keeps this dish light, and if you make the pesto from scratch (super easy) it becomes that much more healthy!

Baked Basil Chicken Parm

basil chicken parm

Ingredients

  • 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Basil Pesto
  • 1/2 cup Low fat mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C.

2. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces.

3. Spray a 9″ x 12″ (or 8.5″ X 12.5″) baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay the chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.

4. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through. (Don’t cook too much at this point, or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.)

5. When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or more!).

6. Put the dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted.

Recipe source: http://laurenconrad.com/blog/2013/11/baked-pesto-chicken/

Healthy Stuffed Chicken

By far the easiest, most delicious chicken I’ve ever had! It combines a bit of greek flavors with the herbs and feta cheese, but you can’t get any tastier and healthy than this recipe. If you don’t like feta cheese I am sure you can substitute for goat cheese.

Healthy Stuffed Chicken

healthy stuffed chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skinless boneless Chicken Breasts; flattened

Stuffing:

  • 6 oz Low-Fat Feta Cheese; crumbled
  • 1/2 cup packed; Chopped Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Sauce:

  • One 14 oz can of tomato sauce (I used a tomato-basil sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon seeded and diced Jalapeño (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a bowl. Spoon the mix onto each Chicken Breast. Roll the chicken around the stuffing and place in a small baking pan brushed with oil. Bake for 35 minutes.

With the leftover mixture, put it in the food processor with about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 tsp of salt. Blend until smooth (it should look like a pesto).

To prepare the sauce: combine the tomato sauce and jalapeño in a pot over medium heat. Simmer until warmed through. If you don’t want to add the jalapeño, you can simply just used a jarred tomato sauce of your choice.

To plate: circle the “pesto” around your plate, place your chicken in the center and spoon the sauce on top of the chicken.

Recipe source: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/healthy-stuffed-chicken

Halibut with lemon-basil pesto

So I am continuing my love of pesto with yet another great pesto recipe! This pesto recipe is a classic, but when paired with a nice, moist, whitefish it brings my love of pesto to a whole new level!

The original recipe called for Sole, but I couldn’t find it at the grocery store. I went for another great, never-fail whitefish, Halibut. You can use any whitefish you choose just make sure its a thinner cut rather than a thick steak-like fish. As you can see in the photo below, I chose a simple couscous as my side. The pesto was just as good on the couscous as it was on the fish!

Halibut with Lemon-Basil Pesto

halibut with lemon basil pesto

Ingredients

Fish marinade:
1/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx 1 large lemon)
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 (2-oz) skinless halibut fillets

Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted *
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx 1 large lemon)
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

First you want to marinade your fish. To do that, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk the marinade to blend. Pour the marinade into a deep bowl or pan and add in your halibut. Turn the fish several times to coat evenly. Let the fish marinade for about 15 minutes.

While your fish is marinading its time to make the yummy pesto. To do so you will want to bring out your food processor or blender. Pulse the basil, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper, until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil and blend until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add the cheese and pulse until just incorporated.
(*To toast the pine nuts, arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden, about 6 minutes. Let the pine nuts cool completely before using).

Once your fish has marinated, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil to pan. Remove the fillets from the marinade, letting any excess marinade drip off, and add to the hot pan. Sear for 3 minutes and then turn the fish over. Sear until the fish has cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

Top each serving of fish with that delicious lemon-basil pesto and serve!

Recipe source: Giada’s Feel Good Food book

Pasta with Spicy Pesto

Anything pesto I love (you will see that in posts to come). Pesto is an easy, healthy sauce that keeps well in the fridge. You can make pesto in batches and use it on pasta or use it as a spread on sandwiches! Again, since my husband is a fan of spicy food, I kicked my love for pesto up a notch and added a special ingredient that gives it a nice kick.

Fusilli with Spicy Pesto

spicy pesto pasta

Ingredients

Pesto:
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 (~2-inch long) jalapeño pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 cups grated (4 ounces) Asiago cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces baby spinach
3 ounces arugula
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fusilli pasta

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

For the pesto: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, jalapeño, cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the spinach and arugula and process until blended. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil.
(If you don’t like things spicy, remove the seeds from the jalapeño pepper. If you like it more spicy, add more than just 1 jalapeño).

Place the cooked pasta and pesto in a large serving bowl. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Asiago cheese and serve.

Recipe source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/fusilli-with-spicy-pesto-recipe/index.html