This baked chicken with pesto and mozzarella was a recipe that came about while I was at work thinking about the dinner that I had to cook one night and was a bit stumped for ideas.
I had some chicken thighs and buffalo mozzarella in the fridge that needed to be used that night and a basil plant out on the balcony that was going gangbusters with leaves. It didn’t take too long for the pieces of the puzzle to come together and, when I got home, I whipped up this quick and easy recipe that turned out to be a real winner that’s become one of my go-to options when I can’t be bothered spending too much time in the kitchen.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes / Cooking Time: 35 minutes / Serves 4
- 30g basil leaves (about 70 leaves)
- 1 tbsp (15g) pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbsp (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 20g parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 buffalo mozzarella ball, about 120g
- 40g natural, thick yoghurt
- 8 chicken thigh fillets, about 100g each
- A handful of breadcrumbs
- Preheat your oven to 180°C fan forced.
- Put the basil, pine nuts and garlic into a pestle and mortar and grind everything up until it’s combined.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil.
- Keep grinding everything together until it has a slightly chunky texture.
- Add salt & pepper to taste and the parmesan cheese.
- Give the mixture one final grind.
- Lay the chicken thighs out onto a cutting board and spread an even amount of the pesto onto each one.
- Cut the buffalo mozzarella into 8 slices, as evenly as you can get them, and place a slice onto each chicken thigh.
- Fold the two narrow ends of the chicken towards each other and hold it together with a skewer.
- Use your hands to spread an even amount of the yoghurt over the top of each filled thigh fillet; this is to help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
- Cover the chicken with breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the chicken.
- Cook for 30 minutes. Don’t worry if some of the pesto and mozzarella spills out of the sides – it’s all good.
- Serve with a side of salad or some vegetables.
If you don’t have a pestle and mortar you can combine the pesto ingredients using a food processor. You won’t get the chunky texture but it’ll still taste great.
Use traditional European style breadcrumbs – you don’t want the extra surface area of panko.
You can use chicken breast instead of thighs, just make sure you flatten the breasts using a meat mallet so that they are flat enough to wrap up.
Fiore di latte, or cow’s milk mozzarella also works really well with this recipe.