I recently realized that I have thousands of photos hiding on my external hard drive that need to be organized ASAP. I always see them as I search for other specific photos, but I honestly never have the motivation to actually sit down and sort through everything. There always seems to be something more important to do. The problem is that there are a lot of gems in there! So I’m going to start getting around to it… I think.
Anyways, going through old photos made me realize how many recipes I made and took photos of a long time ago, and was planning on posting, but never did. There are so many dishes and sauces I like to make but never bother to post because they seem too “basic” or “easy.” I would make meals, take some pictures, and then decide not to put them up after all because there are lots of other instructions on the Internet for the same thing. I’m starting to realize, though, that I should still post them.
Whenever I ask what my readers want to see more of, I’m always shocked at how many people ask for more basic meal ideas. People ask me how to cook meat, how to roast vegetables, what spices to use, what to make for a quick dinner, and so on. Because of that, I realized that I do really want to post some more basics on here to even out the more involved recipes. Even though you can find instructions for the basics all over the Internet, I want my blog to be a one-stop shop for you. I want to have it all in one place for you in case you don’t even know what to google to begin with. So yes, you can certainly google how to bake chicken. But you can also just browse my blog, especially if you’re already on here, and see how I do it. Maybe it’s the same as other people, maybe it’s different. But it’s just what I do, for anyone who is curious!
That being said, over the holidays, which was kind of forever ago, I hosted a lot of dinner parties. I love to cook for other people, as you know, but cooking for a large group can be exhausting. There are some staple dishes I like to make when I’m cooking for a big party – things that are ridiculously easy to throw together but pack a big punch in terms of flavor. And things I can cook in bulk.
This Pesto Tomato Chicken Bake is one of them! I forgot that I wanted to post this a long time ago until I stumbled across these old photos the other day. My first instinct was to retake the photos and make them look nicer, but then I decided to post the originals for a few reasons.
First of all, these photos make me nostalgic, because I remember this night and the people and the conversations and the memories associated with these photos. Even though they’re just photos of chicken and pesto. We recorded this podcast episode that night, and it was hilarious.
I cooked for about 10 people, and I remember everyone laughing at me as I ran around like a madwoman, quickly trying to snap some pictures in the horrible lighting at my parents’ house. It was stressful to cook for everyone and try to take photos at the same time, but I was determined to show you the REAL LIFE version of how I did things and what it actually looked like in the moment. Because even though it wasn’t professional photography that night, it was damn delicious.
Pesto chicken is one of my favorite things to make for large groups of people because it’s so quick and easy – you literally just throw it in the oven and wait. I made a lot of extras for this particular dinner because half of the party consisted of large, muscular men with big appetites. I didn’t want to run out of food! Pesto is the perfect way to liven up any dish and make the meal a tad more gourmet without much extra work. You can just make the pesto ahead of time, slab it on the chicken, and go.
That’s basically my life hack for cooking for other people – make things that they think are complicated and time-consuming, but are actually incredibly easy and quick. I use this pesto in a lot of different dishes, which I will post about soon to show you how versatile it is!
There are so many different ways to make pesto, but this is the version I use when I want something extra thick, creamy, and flavorful. I’ll be posting other pesto variations soon to accommodate different dietary restrictions, but this one is a cashew base. The cashew base gives a really creamy, cheesy flavor without using any cheese!
The pesto is dairy-free, paleo, and vegan, and it can really be used on anything. Like I said, I recommend making this ahead of time and just storing it in the fridge! It’s ridiculously good, and even really unhealthy eaters can’t get enough of it. It’s dangerous when I have this in my fridge. I honestly just eat it with a spoon. You can use it on top of veggies, other meats, with eggs, on pasta…. however you want!
You certainly don’t have to add tomatoes, but I personally do because it’s one of my favorite tricks for baking moist chicken! Yes, I said moist. Baked chicken is often dry, but putting sliced tomatoes on top helps keep the moisture in the chicken as it cooks. Plus, tomato happens to pair really nicely with pesto anyway! If you need a quick and simple dinner idea, this is the perfect option. I love this meal for people who are wary about healthy eating because it just goes to show how delicious simple, real food ingredients are! If you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, or paleo, you will love this! Just serve it with some veggie sides, and you’re good to go.
Paleo / Vegan Cashew Pesto
- 1 cup basil
- 2 cups spinach
- 2/3 cup organic raw cashews (If you have time, soak these for a few hours beforehand in unfiltered water. It’s not necessary, though.)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I always use Kasandrino’s because it’s pure olive oil.)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- juice from half a lemon
- Add all ingredients into a high-powered food processor or blender and process / blend until everything is well incorporated. You might have to stop and scrape the sides a few times to make sure everything gets processed.
- Store extras in an airtight container for up to a week!
Pesto & Tomato Chicken Bake (Paleo)
Serves: About 6 people
Total Time: 35 minutes
- 1.5-2 pounds organic chicken breasts
- Celtic sea salt
- 4-5 organic tomatoes
- Cashew Pesto (see above)
- Line a baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 400*F.
- Slice the tomatoes into rounds.
- Place the chicken breasts on the lined baking sheet or dish and sprinkle with some sea salt.
- Generously spread the cashew pesto on top of each chicken breast. Top the chicken breasts with a few slices of tomato. (I usually do two slices.)
- Bake the chicken for about 25-30 minutes or until it’s cooked all the way through. You can cut through the middle of the chicken to double check that it’s done!
- Cut and serve!
If you make this Pesto Tomato Chicken Bake, let me know how you like it! Who else is obsessed with pesto?!