I remember when I first time tried pesto many years ago, I bought small jar in the shop and prepared with fried chicken and pasta. Smelled weird and tasted awful, even my dog didn’t want to try it, even though she loved pasta 😉 It tasted terrible and for the next few years I didn’t eat any more pesto. Until I started working in the restaurant over five years ago and I learned how to make homemade pesto. It was way better that the one I remembered. Simply delicious! Made with pine nuts, fresh basil and garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Just loved it! So if you ever tried store bought pesto, and you didn’t like it, try to make it yourself.
You can use pine nuts, but cashews or sunflower seeds (pine nuts 13g of carbs in 100g, sunflower seeds 20g of carbs, cashews 30g of carbs) will also work great. I used sunflower seeds as pine nuts are pretty expensive, and sunflower seeds work good as well. I use quite a lot of garlic, but the amounts in the recipe are not obligatory, so take it more as a guide. You should get a thick green paste, you can spread nicely over the chicken. Pesto is very universal, you can add it to pasta or rice if use them in your kitchen. You can mix it with fried or oven baked veggies, or spread over the sandwich.
In this recipe, mixed with double cream, gives delicious creamy and aromatic sauce. If you have a food processor or chopper you can prepare pesto in seconds, so preparation of whole dish won’t take longer than 30 minutes. I served it with pan fried courgette and mushrooms – very quick and easy.
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quick & easy pesto chicken skillet (ketofriendly)
NOTE: my measuring cup is regular 250ml glass
- 500g chicken thighs
- 1-2 tbsp clarified butter or coconut oil
- about 300ml double cream
- about 2 handfuls of fresh basil
- about ⅓-½ cup sunflower seeds (but you can also use pine nuts or cashews)
- parmesan cheese (I used about 1-2 tablespoons of grated parmesan)
- good pinch of coarse pepper
- about ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- pinch of natural rock salt
- for decoration: few cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves
Start with pesto. I If you have a food processor or this special chopping container you can connect with blender, just pop in all the ingredients and blend until smooth (sunflower seeds or nuts, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, coarse pepper, olive oil, pinch of salt, 2-3 garlic cloves). Amounts in the recipe are approximate, so if you feel like your pesto needs more pepper, basil or you like it to be more cheesy, adjust the amounts to your taste. I like a lot of garlic, 3 cloves is a lot, so you can start with 1 or 2. As you can see on the photos I had enough of pesto to put on the chicken, plus about 3 tablespoons for later (you can store pesto in the fridge in closed container for about 3 days).
My chopper is broken so what I’ve used was a blender and coffee grinder. I’ve used coffee grinder to blend sunflower seeds, blender to blend olive oil and fresh basil together and garlic press to smash garlic cloves. I have finely grated parmesan, so all I needed to do is to combine all the ingredients together to a paste: grounded sunflower seeds, olive oil and basil paste, garlic, parmesan cheese, coarse pepper and small pinch of salt.
Heat large skillet adding 1-2 tablespoons of clarified butter or coconut oil. Fry chicken thighs on both sides until golden on a quite large heat. And then season with salt on both sides. Add cream and lower the heat, it should only gently simmer. Spread generous amount of pesto on each piece of chicken, also add 2-3 teaspoons to cream sauce. Place couple cherry tomatoes and let it simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes. Place some fresh basil leaves before serving.
Serve with addition of your choice – on my plate courgette fried with mushrooms with some clarified butter, slightly salted with natural rock salt.