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Creamy Red Pesto Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Creamy Red Pesto Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes

It seems everyone I know is growing tomatoes this year! We only moved into our house in May, and we’ve been concentrating our effort, and budget, on getting the inside how we want it. This means that the garden’s been on the back burner for this year, figuring that next Spring we’ll set to work on it ready for enjoying it next summer. Hopefully, we’ll be able to grow some vegetables, spurred on by the small pot of cherry tomato plants, donated by my mother and nurtured by the OH, we have going on in one corner of the patio right now. And they’re fruiting! At least, they’re covered with tiny green tomatoes waiting to get red in the sun. So far, we’ve had one each, but hopefully more are on the way! Anyhow, like I said, everyone else seems to be growing tomatoes, and I received a huge bowl of bright red baby ones from the MIL who has more than she knows what to do with.

One of my favourite things to do with cherry tomatoes is to roast them and eat them whole, and this recipe is based on one in the May 2009 BBC Good Food Magazine, which caught my eye as it’s served with roasted baby tomatoes. Yum! I’ve made a few changes, of course, which include using red pesto instead of the suggested green, and upping the quantities of tomatoes. I served this with some plain (read: slathered with butter) new potatoes.

Creamy Red Pesto Stuffed Chicken, with Roasted Tomatoes (serves 2)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons red pesto
  • 45g mascarpone
  • olive oil
  • 50g breadcrumbs (2 ish slices white bread, crust removed, whizzed into crumbs)
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • handful pine nuts
  • handful fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish, large enough to hold the chicken breasts and tomatoes.

Using a small, sharp knife, slit along the fat side of each chicken breast to make a little pocket.

Mix together the pesto and mascarpone until well combined. Spoon half of the mixture into the pocket in each chicken breast, carefully pushing in as much as you can, and then closing the pocket and smoothing down the mascarpone. You probably won’t be able to fully close the breast up again, but a little leaking during cooking is fine.

Tip the breadcrumbs onto a plate of shallow bowl, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and then lightly mix with your hands. Brush each chicken breast on both sides with a little oil, then lay onto the breadcrumbs, pile some onto the top and gently push down so both sides are coated – but not too hard, you’re looking for a light crumb, not a compacted crust.

Place the chicken breast into the prepared dish then scatter the tomatoes amongst. Drizzle some more olive oil, maybe two tablespoons or so, over everything, and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs begin to turn golden and the chicken is cooked through.

Scatter over the pine nuts and cook for another two minutes. Then artfully scatter over some basil leaves, et voila! Enjoy.  

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Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce

August 21, 2009 Leave a comment

This sauce is amazing! Quick, easy and at the same time rich and indulgent. Based on a recipe in May’s BBC Good Food Magazine, with a few minor tweaks. Their suggestion is to have this with gnocchi and spinach, although it would be equally great with pasta. This is also a good standby supper, as you’ll likely have most of what’s needed in the house, or at least I do, perhaps having to pick up a tub of mascarpone on my way home.

Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce (serves 2)

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 x 400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 250g tub mascarpone (i.e. 125g, but by eye rather than by weighing)
  • Fresh basil and freshly shaved or grated Parmesan to serve

Finely chop the garlic. Heat the oil in a large-ish frying pan and fry the garlic for a minute or two until beginning to colour. Tip the tomatoes into the pan, and simmer for 5-10 minutes until reduced a little.

Stir in the mascarpone, and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes until all incorporated. Stir into 400g cooked, drained pasta, or a 500g pack gnocchi, cooked as per packet instructions, perhaps with a 200g bag of baby spinach leaves tipped into the boiling water for the last minute of cooking, and drained well. Scatter over freshly torn basil leaves and freshly shaved or grated Parmesan, and eat immediately!

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

July 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Juicy Red Veg Ready for RoastingLast time I was at my local market, I was tempted by tomatoes – every stall seemed to have lots of overflowing bowls of cheery, summery bright red beauties, and having recently had a disappointing batch of pale, flavourless supermarket tomatoes, bought far more than I should have. And for far less than my tiny Tesco punnet. But what to do with them all?

One of my favourite, easy meals is a hot bowl of Tomato and Red Pepper soup, usually bought rather than made. I usually have red peppers in the fridge – I use them in lots of dishes, and making my own version of this soup seemed like a good idea – after all, how hard could it be. So, inspired by a similar tomato sauce and other soups I’ve made, as well as various recipes I’d looked at for this, here is my take on Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup.

  • 750g tomatoes (mine were a mixture of cherry tomatoes and baby plum tomatoes, but any tasty, flavour-packed ones will do)
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 500ml hot vegetable stock (I used 2 teaspoons Marigold Vegetable Bouillon powder in 500ml hot water)

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Prepare the tomatoes – if using larger ones, slice them in half. With my cherry and baby tomatoes, I just slit the skin of each with a sharp knife. De-seed the red peppers and chop them into chunks. Peel the onion and cut into a couple of chunks. 

Throw all of the vegetables into a large roasting dish, and chuck in the unpeeled garlic cloves. Coat with a liberal amount of olive oil, and smoosh everything around in the dish until well coated. Cook in the oven for around an hour, until the vegetables are cooked and some of the pepper and tomato skin is beginning to brown a little.

Put the cooked tomato mixture into a blender, or, as I did, blend in batches with a stick blender, using a little of the stock to loosen the mixture. Blend well!

Rest a sieve over a bowl, and pour through the blended mixture in batches.  My soup was quite thick when it went in the sieve, so for each batch I added a little stock and stirred until the sieve emptied into the bowl. After the last batch, give the sieve a final rinse of stock and a good shake – you should end up with just a fairly dry pile of tomato seeds and little else.

Into the bowl of now-smooth soup, stir in further stock to achieve the final consistency you want. All in all, with the sieving and final addition I ended up using about 350ml. Taste for seasoning – depending on the stock you’ve used, you may need to add a little salt.

Warm through in a saucepan to serve. Will keep in the fridge for a day or two, or freeze for up to a month, in individual portions if you like. Serves 2, with some good bread.

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