Pesto-Smothered Grilled Chicken Breast

Frances Janisch
  • Yield: servings


1/4pound Romano cheese, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
2cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/4cup pine nuts
2-- garlic cloves, peeled
1-- lemon
1 1/4teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2cup olive oil
4-- whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved
1/4cup extra-virgin olive oil
1teaspoon salt
-- Whole basil leaves, for garnish


  1. To make the pesto: Place the cheese in a food processor and process until coarsely grated. Add the basil, pine nuts, garlic, juice of 1/2 the lemon, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Process to a thick paste, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Use a scraper to push down the sides. With the machine running, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup olive oil through the feed tube until you have a thick liquid. Taste and add salt if needed. Transfer to an airtight container. Do not refrigerate if you plan on using the same day.
  2. To prepare the chicken: Place the chicken in a glass baking dish and coat both sides with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons of the pesto, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the grill. Grill the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes per side, depending on the thickness.
  4. To serve, arrange the grilled chicken on a large serving platter. Spoon the remaining pesto over the entire platter. Garnish with lemon wedges and whole basil leaves.

From THE FIRE ISLAND COOKBOOK Copyright © 2012 by The World Wine Guys, LLC published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.