I love experimenting with spicy food – have done so for years – and then my significant other felt unwell & found himself on a restricted medical diet for a short period. Hmm steamed chicken could get boring night after night.
Naturally I had been worried that my ongoing experiments with international cuisine might not have helped, but I was assured that some herbs & spices were okay, as long as the oil content was controlled.
So for our regular Sunday Night Dinner with my Mum, I found myself looking at Donna Hay’s Baked Italian Chicken from “The Instant Cook” – so simple with only a few modifications to suit the medical diet.
First of all it needed Pesto – instintively I started to write it on the shopping list we keep on the fridge. And then I thought of the Basil plants in the vegie patch – they aren’t going to last long as winter approaches – already getting ready to go to seed. Yet, there are still so many large luxuriant Basil leaves on each of the bushes.
So I decided on DIY Pesto & consulted Donna Hay’s “Short Order Rough Pesto” in her “Modern Classics – Book 1“
1/2 cup fresh Basil leaves from the vegie patch plus 1/2 tspn crushed Garlic, 2 tbspns fresh grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tbspns Olive Oil & 1 1/2 tbspns toasted Pine Nuts – all blended together with a stick blender – Donna Hay just chops the Basil & Pine Nuts, however I preferred to blend them. Although it did take some detaching of the Pesto from the blender’s blades !
I only needed 2 tbspns for the Italian Oven Baked Chicken so the rest of the Pesto went into tiny glass jars topped with Pendleton Estate’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2008 Picual/Frantoio Blend (from South Australia’s Limestone Coast) – the Teenager is already making comments about how good Pesto tastes on those mini European toast breads.
Ps. I should mention that I had decided to try toasting the Pine Nuts in the Microwave on a Browning Dish – note to self – next time do it in 20 second intervals – not 60 seconds in one go – as I plucked out the blackened burnt one’s from the not so burnt.
Although the Baked Italian Chicken did not include potato or pumpkin I decided to add these to the dish…
Take 2 large Roma Tomatoes & quarter them
- Lightly spray large baking dish with cooking spray then place large sheet of baking paper into dish – place quartered tomatoes onto baking paper – very lightly sprinkle or spray with olive oil & grind black pepper over top.
- Chop peeled potatoes into slightly larger than bite size chunks & toss into the baking dish – sprinkle with Italian or Tuscan Herbs
- Bake for 10-15 minutes at 230oC – remove from oven
- Chop peeled butternut pumpkin into slightly larger than bite size chunks & toss into the baking dish – sprinkle with Italian or Tuscan Herbs
- Bake for another 20-30 minutes until knife can just penetrate potato chunks but not soft
- In the meantime take 2-4 chicken breasts (depending on appetites) & halve.
- Spoon 1 tspn Pesto on each piece. Top with 1 tbspn fresh grated Parmesan – then wrap 2 slices Prosciutto around each – however if you don’t like Prosciutto just leave it off
- (Note – I had bought the Prosciutto from the Leisure Coast Gourmet Deli off Cabbage Tree Lane in Fairy Meadow – north of Wollongong – so popular with The Gong’s Italian community – not to mention many others from the 80+nationalities in Wollongong.)
- Note – I usually prepare these a little ahead of time and leave them in the fridge until ready to bake
- Place these on top of potato & pumpkin chunks in baking dish – bake at 200oC for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked but still tender and not dry.
- Use large egg slice & spoon to gently lift & serve chicken, potato & pumpkin chunks with quartered tomatoes onto plates. Serve with steamed beans. – Serves 4-6
Too easy – and afterwards … my home cooked Quince Paste (now that was a learning journey … ) with a Tawny Port …