Grilled Pesto Chicken & Tomatoes

Labor Day weekend…how did that happen??  I need to post some grilling recipes pronto before it comes time to haul out slow cooker from the basement!

Today’s recipe comes from one of the many cooking magazines I have stacked in my breakfast room near the computer.  I made it a few weeks ago with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden and oh my, it was so delicious.  It is a simple recipe to be sure but note that the pesto is spread onto the chicken after it cooks, and this is the key.  Previously I have experimented with marinating chicken in pesto and then grilling it and also basting chicken while it is grilling.  Both techniques yielded inferior results.  The pesto just burned and lost all of it’s bright flavor.

This recipe, on the other hand, gets it right.  By mixing the pesto with a little butter and some chopped walnuts, you create a nice little sauce which  melts over the grilled tomatoes and chicken.  You get the vibrant flavor of the pesto and a little crunch from the walnuts.  Perfecto!

Now you’re probably wondering if I also have a super fantastic recipe for basil pesto, and indeed I do.  And since I’ve fallen a bit behind on the blogging lately, I really do owe you all a couple of recipes.  Hoping to get the pesto recipe posted later in the day.

Wishing everyone a safe and relaxing weekend.  And don’t forget to visit your local farmers markets.  This is prime time for fresh local produce!

Grilled Pesto Chicken & Tomatoes

3 TBS olive oil

4 medium OR 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced

6 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 1/2 to 2 lbs bone-in chicken pieces (thighs, thigh/drumstick combo or breasts), skin on or off

3 TBS butter or margarine, softened

3 TBS homemade or purchased basil pesto

2 TBS chopped walnuts or whole pine nuts, toasted

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Smoking chips (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and fresh garlic.  Rinse chicken in cold water and pat dry.  Brush chicken pieces and tomatoes with the olive oil/garlic mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Combine butter, pesto and toasted walnuts in a small bowl and set aside.

For a charcoal fire, arrange medium-hot coals around an aluminum drop pan.  Add smoking chips just prior to putting chicken on.  For a gas grill, preheat then set for medium-indirect cooking.  Place chicken, bone side down, on rack over grill pan (or on gas grill over burner that is not lit). Cover and grill for 50 to 60 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (breasts will probably be done in 50 minutes.  Thighs and drumsticks in 60).

During the last 6-8 minutes of grilling, place the tomatoes, cut side down, on the grill directly over the coals, turning once after 3 minutes.

Remove chicken and tomatoes from the grill.  Immediately spread pesto mixture over both and serve.

Serves 4

2 thoughts on “Grilled Pesto Chicken & Tomatoes

  1. I made this chicken and you are right about it being easy! I have my own homemade pesto but store bought would work fine.
    I did make a slight change. I put the chicken in a plastic bag with about 4 tablespoons of olive oil and about 4 cloves of crushed garlic. I let it marinate for a couple hours before grilling. I also used some heirloom tomatoes I got at the farmers market.
    If you like pesto you will LOVE this recipe! It is simple and delicious!! Thanks for another winner Chef!

  2. Pingback: Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

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