Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘pesto’

Stuffed chicken breast with garlicky beans – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on March 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

You are only a few ingredients away from making a lovely Italian inspired dish. What better incentive to get started?

Sometimes, I forget how much I love a certain food until I eventually eat it again. This especially happens with green beans. Whenever my mum made it, I used to wolf down half the bowl myself, but for some reason I never really cooked with them myself. Well, that’s about to change cause it turns out that I really love green beans! But something I love even more than green beans is umami. I’d happily swear to never ever eat sweets again, as long as I have a moderately (un)healthy supply of all things savoury. Hard cheeses and cured meats are only some of the foods naturally rich in umami and they both feature in today’s recipe. Throw in a good dose of garlic and I’m in heaven! Did you know that umami can be found in breast milk? We’re basically raised on it! And next time you find yourself craving some miso soup, remember that umami is a big part of Japanese cuisine.

If you’re not a big fan of pesto, don’t fret – there are many other things you could stuff your chicken with. How about some plain soft cheese with a bit of lemon juice, chives and crushed black peppercorns? Or if you’re looking for something more robust get yourself a pesto made with sun-dried tomatoes. Same great umami flavour, without the mountains of basil. If you’re looking to save some pennies, you can opt for a simple prosciutto instead of the real deal Parma ham, although I often find that it’s better value to get the latter. And if you’re cooking for two, there’s always a couple of slices left over that you can eat out of the packet when no-one’s looking… after having washed your hands thoroughly, of course. Oh and don’t worry If some of the filling spills out – just serve it on the side with the chicken. If you really don’t want to make a mess, you can cook the chicken in little parcels made out of baking paper – simply put the chicken on the paper, fold it over, and then fold the edges together. That way, there will be no spillage on your baking tray!

Feeds 2:

2 reasonably large chicken breasts

2 tbsp pesto

1 heaped tbsp soft cheese

4 slices Parma ham

250g green beans

2-3 garlic cloves

Good olive oil

Salt, pepper


Bake chicken breasts on a medium-high heat for 25-30 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

This week I’ve really been struggling to decide on three links to give you… so I’ll cheekily include two in one: The first one tells you all about how Parma ham is made, and the second one is the official Prosciutto di Parma website, which has tons of information and most importantly: great recipes!

If you’re not a fan of green beans, here are 30 other sides you could dish up!

Finally, if the concept of umami still confuses you, this website has all the info: From what it is, to where you can find it – you’ll never have to go without!

Pesto alla genovese – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on June 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Picture: Useful Times

This popular Italian sauce is incredibly versatile and so easy to make – you really have no excuse not to try it!

As the name suggests, pesto comes from Genova, which is in northern Italy. The word pesto itself is derived from ‘pestare’, which means to crush, or to pound. Pesto used to be most commonly made with a mortar and pestle – as you can imagine this takes a lot longer than simply whizzing everything together in a food processor, but there is no denying that the traditional method will reward you with an immensely gratifying tasting experience.

Now, since pesto is so quick and easy to make, I could have simply made the sauce and then used it straight away in a meal, but I decided not to do that for one very good reason. I don’t want to limit your imagination as to what you can do with this little sauce of wonders. Arguably, pesto works best simply stirred into pasta, but it’s a great ingredient for any chicken dishes, and even works as a spread. If you require different flavours for your recipe, simply alter the pesto – add a few sundried tomatoes to make red pesto, or change the cheese for a slightly different take on it.

I have used pecorino in my recipe as I find the strong flavours of this cheese work best with pesto, but you can use parmiggiano or any other hard cheese. There is a tendency for home made pesto to be slightly more liquid than the ones you can buy in the supermarket – this is because most bought pestos rely on cashew nuts to give the sauce the right consistency. You can counter this by adding more pine nuts to the recipe, but always make sure that all the flavours have their own space. Also, do make sure that you only add just enough olive oil to make a paste – you don’t want your ingredients to swim in it!

Makes one jar of roughly 300g

100g basil leaves

30g grated pecorino

2-3 tbsp pine nuts

2-4 tbsp olive oil

garlic and black pepper to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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