Saturday, January 16, 2010

Almond Kale Crusted Chicken (plus bonus leftover recipe)

Here is the recipe I promised that I made alongside the tahini roasted carrots they other night for dinner. It was my way of being resourceful and using up some of the left over ingredients in the pantry and fridge. I had some kale that needed to get eaten and some chicken I needed to cook. So, something good always comes from having to be resourceful and creative. It seems that if your focus is making healthy, nutritious food for you and your family then you really give all you got to using the best ingredients without wasting anything.

Kale or other greens are a great way to make a kind of "pesto" sauce if you are lacking the fresh basil or other fresh herbs. So, this is a way to use the nutritious greens in other ways that you might not traditionally think of. It's rich with flavor and you can almost taste the goodness going through your body. Once you turn away from frozen dinners, packaged foods and start feeding your body whole food ingredients, you will start to really crave the goodness they have to offer. The vitamins, minerals, folic acid, and the lists goes on.... why would we ever want anything else? Good question!
Kale Paste Recipe:
1 to 1-1/2 cups of packed fresh kale leaves (I used curly kale)
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of pine nuts (or walnuts or even sliced almonds)
1/3 cup of olive oil, ghee or even pasture-fed cow butter
1 ts. of salt
1 ts. of agave nectar
1 ts. of cracked pepper
1 ts-1 TB of water

Use a magic bullet, a vita-mix, or a smaller food processor, and put all of the ingredients in the mixer and blend for up to one minute to fully blend and whip up the leaves and garlic. Once it is done blending it will be kinda like a "pesto" sauce paste.

Brush or rub the paste all over 1-2 pounds of raw chicken breasts or tenderloins. Rub the paste on thick, and even add any last spoonfuls of it into the pan to bake alongside the chicken. I used a 12x9 Pyrex glass pan to bake my chicken in. Then sprinkle a half cups worth of almond meal (grind up raw almonds in a coffee grinder or food processor) all over the green covered chicken. The chicken will not longer be covered alone in the green paste, but will be fully covered in the almond meal. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until no longer pink or raw.

Then once baked to completion, serve with side of gluten-free rice pasta, and a veggie (tahini carrots). A dinner that is complete with satisfying nutrition. It almost tastes like a chicken pesto Parmesan dinner. I made Tinkyada brown rice pasta to go with mine and then I had great leftover for the next day....

Bonus Leftover Recipe

Kale Pesto "Faux Parmesan" Chicken

I don't know about you, but I love to cook enough of one meal to make for 2 meals. So, yes, I do enjoy leftovers, especially when you can morph something great from the night before into a simple tasty lunch/dinner the next day. Great for a weekend rest if you make the big meal on Saturday and then have the leftover for a simple and restful Sunday. The kitchen needs rest too ya know. So here what I came up with...

Use leftover Kale Almond Crusted Chicken (3-4 smaller chicken breast pieces) and chop them into about 2 cups of chicken bite sized pieces. They are cooked already so the 2nd process of cooking is really just re-warming on the stove top...

Use either the left overs from the package of the 16 ounce Tinkyada spaghetti pasta from the night before, or cook up about 12 ounces of freshly made Tinkyada pasta. Between me and my husband we ate about 4-6 ounces of pasta from the night before and then I used the rest from the 16 ounce package the next day.
So, use the chopped up chicken and leftover kale paste. Put in a large frying pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Then add the leftover pasta, or freshly cooked pasta with another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir constantly to get the kale sauce from the chicken and the noodles blend well. There will be a light pesto sauce forming over the whole dish and add a few dashes of fresh sea salt and black pepper. Then lastly add another 1/2 cup of freshly ground almond meal. The nuts add a sweet, rich flavor that makes you feel like you added some fresh Parmesan cheese. I swear it tastes as if I was eating fresh cheese myself, or maybe it has been a while that I forgot the real tastes of Parmesan, but in all honesty if you are looking for something to taste like a traditional Italian meal delite, then try this one out! Cook on the stove top for about 5- 10 minutes until the noodles and chicken are fully warmed and ready to serve. Also, optional ideas for adding more veggies, use some of your leftover roasted carrots or add some roasted tomatoes, zucchini or other favorite pasta veggie another with the stove-top warm-up.

So the next day the leftovers were a hit and tastes different than the night before, very yummy, and simple. A great way to make your meals stretch. I, personally, am trying to find ways to be more resourceful in the kitchen and let the nutrition and budget get stretched beyond one meal. Hope you enjoy, and let me know if this is something you find helpful or if you have any great ideas for leftovers?

Much love to you today!

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