Simple Pesto-Chicken Go-To Dinner Party Menu


Mozzarella Tomato Salad

Pesto Grilled Chicken over Lemon Scallion Rice with Haricot Verts

Strawberries & Cream with Chocolate Shavings

Tomato and Mozzarella 2

BLUEPRINT:This Week’s Go To Dinner Party Menu is perfect for a warm summer evening. The mozzarella tomato salad is a classic – cool & refreshing with the basil working its magic. The grilled chicken over the lemony rice is light and although served warm, surprisingly refreshing. You can make the strawberries & cream earlier in the day. Steam your beans, cool them in an ice bath and sauté them in a pan right before serving. Have the rice ready to go, adding in the lemon zest & scallions at the very last minute. Grill the chicken while your guests are enjoying their first course. Here you may even be able to recruit your husband/partner to help out. I “man” the grill in my house, so I get the chicken on the grill, serve the mozzarella & tomato salad. Half way through, turn the chicken over, returning to finish the first course. When everyone is just about done, excuse yourself, making sure the chicken is cooked through. Remove from grill & cover with foil on a cutting board while you plate up the rest of the meal.

Grocery List:

  • Fruit: 12 large strawberries, 1 lemon
  • Produce: 3 large ripe tomatoes, bunch of scallions, 1 1/2 lbs haricot verts (french green beans)
  • Fresh Herbs: 1 bunch basil
  • Meat & Fish: 6 chicken breasts
  • Dairy: 16 ozs heavy cream, 1 sixteen oz piece of fresh mozzarella
  • Frozen: n/a
  • Staples: 3 cups rice
  • Baking: 2 tbs confectioners’ sugar + more for dusting
  • Spices: salt, pepper
  • Other: 1 seven oz container of Buitoni pesto with basil, kitchen moxie vinaigrette, 4 ozs of good chocolate

Mozzarella Tomato Salad

What you need: measuring cups/spoons, chef’s knife, cutting board

Serves: 6

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 sixteen oz piece of fresh mozzarella
  • 8 – 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Kitchen Moxie vinaigrette
  • salt
  • pepper

Thinly slice the tomatoes (taking off the ends). Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese. Chiffonade the basil.

To Serve: Alternating tomato and mozzarella slices, create an overlapping circle on the plate. Sprinkle the basil on the mozzarella and tomato. Drizzle some Kitchen Moxie Vinaigrette on top. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Pesto Grilled Chicken over Lemon Scallion Rice with Haricot Verts

Serves: 6

For the chicken:

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, paring knife, chef’s knife, cutting board, bbq grill (or grill pan), large Ziploc bag

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 1 seven oz container Buitoni ready-made pesto with basil
  • salt
  • pepper

Season each chicken breast with salt & pepper and place in a large Ziploc bag. Add the container of pesto to the bag. Close the bag; taking out the excess air,  and move the chicken around to make sure they are all coated with the pesto. Refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably longer. Heat the bbq grill (or grill pan) to medium/high. Grill the chicken for about 8 – 10 minutes per side, turning once or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.

For the Rice:

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, medium – large heavy bottomed sauce pan with tight fitting lid, chef’s knife, cutting board, microplane (zester)

Serves: 6

  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 scallions (2 finely chopped & 2 thinly sliced for plating)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place 3 cups of water in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add 1 tbs of butter and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil and add in 1 ½ cups of rice. Bring back to the boil & immediately lower the heat until the water is at a low simmer. Place the lid on top and cook for approximately 20 minutes. Don’t peek in the pot during the cooking time & make sure to let the rice sit off the heat for about 5 minutes prior to adding lemon zest & scallions. Add the lemon zest and scallions fluffing up the rice as you go. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

For the Haricot Verts:

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, medium heavy bottomed sauce pan with tight fitting lid, large sauté pan, chef’s knife, cutting board, steamer basket, large bowl with ice

Serves: 6

  • 1 1/2 lbs of haricot verts (french green beans or regular green beans if you can’t find them)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbs of salted butter
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place steamer basket in the pot and fill with water just until it reaches the basket. Trim the beans and place in the steamer basket. Cook until just tender (about 3 – 4 minutes). Remove immediately and place in an ice bath (large bowl with water and ice cubes). This will stop the cooking process. Once beans are cool, drain, dry completely and set aside. Set up a large sauté pan with the butter and lemon. Just before serving, heat the butter and lemon over medium high heat. Add the beans and sauté until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve: Spoon the rice into the center of 6 warmed plates/bowls. Slice each chicken breast and place over the rice. With tongs, place a small bundle of green beans on either side of the chicken and rice. Scatter scallions over the top.

Strawberries & Cream with Chocolate Shavings

I got the idea for this recipe on Pinterest. The amazing photo (which I have on my favorite recipes board) took me to Kruizing with Kikukat. The original recipe calls for filling the strawberries with almond cream & I’ve found others with cheescake filling. I’ve filled mine with fresh whipped cream & added a little powdered sugar and shaved chocolate. Decadent, but simple enough for a perfect ending to supper on a hot summer’s evening. 

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, chef’s knife, cutting board, stand-alone (or hand mixer with whisk attachment, pastry bag with large star tip opening (or large Ziploc bag with corner cut off), vegetable peeler, fine sieve

Serves: 6

  • 12 large strawberries
  • 16 ozs of heavy cream
  • 2 tbs of confectioners’ sugar + more for dusting
  • 4 ozs good quality chocolate

Cut off the tops of the strawberries removing the stem. Set the strawberry on a cutting board –  cut side down (it should stand nicely, as you’ve created a flat surface). Cut a large X down and 3/4 of the way through the strawberry, being careful not to cut completely through. Set the prepared strawberries aside. Place the heavy cream in a cold (I put mine in the freezer for about 5 minutes before I use it) mixing bowl and whip. Add in the 2 tbs of confectioners’ sugar and continue whipping until soft peaks form. Place the cream inside the pastry bag. Push open the X on the strawberry and pipe the cream into the center until it fills the X and starts to come out the sides. Put the confectioners’ sugar in a fine sieve and dust the strawberries. Using the vegetable peeler, shave off chocolate curls over the top of the strawberries & cream.

To Serve: Place the strawberries on a serving platter and pass around the table. If there is any whipped cream left over after filling the strawberries, I like to put it in a bowl with chocolate shavings on top and pass along for those who would like a little extra cream. Super yummy!


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