Chi Wulff’s Friday Feast 20 April: Lemon Basil Grilled Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

by Mark McGlothlin on April 20, 2012

in Friday Feast

Word association time.  I say ‘spring’, fly fishers say…



…Mother’s Day Caddis.

…Ice out on the lakes.

…Sea-run cutthroat.

The foodies among us also celebrate the return of the grilling season; She Who Must Be Obeyed and I sure have been.

A burst of sunny days this week has really driven us to drag out some favorite recipes for the grill; a renewed commitment to shake a few pounds this spring has prompted the majority of our early season grilling to feature chicken.

While we have a readily evident bias toward spicy, southwestern and Asian inspired fare, we also love the flavor palate from the Mediterranean. This Lemon Basil Grilled Chicken is among our very favorites (just as good as the killer Lime Curry Grilled Chicken) and the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto is so good the last time we served this to company one of the gals snuck into the kitchen and ate it right out of the bowl.

This chicken makes a masterful sandwich if you can ever manage to have leftovers; slather the pesto on some ciabatta and pile on some of this chicken – you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.

Lemon Basil Chicken
1 cup lemon juice, far better if fresh squeezed
1/3 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, minced
1 tsp. salt
6 skinless whole chicken breasts

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
6 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), simmered until tender and drained
Heaping 1/3 cup pine nuts
Heaping 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Marinate the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, basil and salt; mix well. Add the chicken breasts, coating both sides and marinate at room temperature for an hour or three in the fridge (bring to room temperature before grilling).

Pesto time. Meanwhile, reconstitute the sun-dried tomatoes and drain. Roughly puree the tomatoes in your trusty food processor, then add the remainder of the ingredients and puree again to the desired consistency.

Grill time. Fire the grill; shake excess marinade from the chicken pieces (don’t wipe it off) and grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side until just cooked through.

Serve ‘em up. Pull from the grill, plate and spoon a big dollop of the sun-dried tomato pesto right on top. Makes a killer sandwich on ciabatta too.