Marinate Chicken In Pesto And Lemon For A Fresh And Zesty Entree

Chicken is arguably the most popular meat in the world, outshining both pork and beef. If you haven't been pairing it with pesto and lemon, though, you're missing out. Pesto and chicken go together like two peas in a pod, often combined in various dishes from pasta to salad or even marinated with lemon.

The reason these ingredients complement each other so well is due to the flavor profile of each. Chicken has a subtle flavor that allows a marinade or sauce to shine through. Alternatively, lemon is extremely acidic and adds a floral, slightly sour freshness to the chicken. Pesto is also known for being vibrant, lush, and fragrant due to its herbaceous mixture. Traditionally, pesto is made by pulsing together fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Seasonings like salt, pepper, and lemon juice can also be added to taste.

While this sauce would be delicious on pasta, a sandwich, or even a sheet pan pesto chicken recipe, using it as a flavorful and simple spread for your raw chicken can easily elevate a simple meal. To maximize the flavor, place your chicken in a ziplock bag or a bowl with your pesto and leave it to marinate for at least four hours but not longer than a couple of days. The lemon juice actually acts as a tenderizing agent and helps the herb and garlic flavors absorb into the raw meat.

Delicious options for lemon pesto-marinated chicken

The cooking options for your pesto-infused chicken are quite versatile with baking, grilling, or sauteing all being popular choices. If you are short on time, many grocery stores also sell pre-marinated pesto chicken. The most important aspect of cooking chicken is ensuring that it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees for safety reasons.

However, you also need to keep an eye on your marinade while your chicken is cooking to ensure it's not burning or sticking to the pan. Some users on Reddit found that their marinated chicken was sticking even after adjusting the heat multiple times. This issue speaks to the importance of having a well-oiled pan or grill and a stable cooking temperature. The olive oil in the pesto marinade will also help to keep your chicken from sticking.

While some think you should avoid roasting chicken with pesto entirely, since the pesto runs the risk of burning, marinating your raw chicken helps to lock those vibrant citrus and herb flavors into the meat itself. Plus, chicken pesto pizza is a classic recipe that doesn't seem to have any issues with the high heat or cooking times. Additionally, you could withhold some of the pesto from your marinade to top your cooked chicken with it and a squeeze of lemon for an extra pesto lemon flavor. Pesto chicken is extremely versatile with meal options as well. Veggie skewers, potatoes, rice, or various salads can all help to make this entree shine.