Quick and Delicious
I have been in love with food and cooking all my life. Before I could even see over the kitchen counter, I used to drag a drinks crate from the back shed into my family kitchen and perch myself on top of the upturned box so I could watch the goings on from my Mother’s formica benchtop.
That interest and excitement that I get from cooking has not waned, even after 25 years of working in professional kitchens as a chef, I’m still enamoured by flavours and experiences from food.
Joining the PHATT program a couple of months ago did not see my culinary interests diminish, in fact my excitement and creativity increased as I began to create health conscious meals that were inline with the principles of PHATT. I was enjoying my food so much, I forgot sometimes that I was on a supposed to be on a “diet” as I was eating well. I was eating delicious. I was getting healthier by the day and I was losing weight at the same time.
This recipe was designed for not only flavour, but for speed as well. It a one pan dish so it’s also easy to wash up. Its super tasty and takes in one of my favourite components of the program, plentiful fresh herbs!
Sheet pan chicken + asparagus with a basil + lemon pesto
Stage 2 PHATT program
Why it’s delicious
There is nothing like homemade pesto, and this little sauce is fresh and crisp in flavour. Using fresh sweet basil, lemon to balance and garlic to mellow it is a great sauce to keep on hand for using on salads, vegetables and meats. The chicken is cooked in a small parcel so you lock in the moisture and the vegetables are flashed quickly in the oven so that they remain crunchy yet tender.
Helpful hints + tips
Buy yourself a big bunch of fresh basil and make enough of the pesto to last in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Basil + lemon pesto
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1-2 lemons, juiced and skin zested
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
60 ml (2 fl oz) water
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
100 g (3.5 oz) chicken breast
3 large leaves fresh basil, finely sliced
5 leaves of fresh coriander (cilantro)
20 stalks asparagus
2 tsp ground wakame
Prepare the basil pesto by placing the basil, parsley, juice of 1 lemon, garlic and water into a blender and blending on high for 30-60 seconds or until the basil leaves. If the pesto seems a bit dry, add another 60 ml of water and blend to combine.
Season the pesto with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and taste for flavour adding more lemon juice or seasoning if required. Store the pesto in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
When you are ready to cook your chicken, preheat the oven on bake to 190C (375F).
Slice the chicken breast into 4-5 even sized slices and lay it on to a large square of non stick paper. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle over a few pieces of lemon zest from the basil pesto along with a couple of leaves of the sliced basil.
Wrap the chicken into a little parcel and place on a small sheet pan or oven tray.
Break the base of the asparagus stalks off where they snap,discard the woody ends, and lay the spear ends of the asparagus on to the sheet pan ensuring they are in a single layer. Season the asparagus with salt and pepper, and dribble over a couple of teaspoons of the basil and lemon pesto. Add the remaining sliced basil and a few pieces of the lemon zest and sprinkle over the ground wakame.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes or until the chicken in the parcel is cooked through and tender.