PRESTO! PESTO CHICKEN WITH LEMON AND TOMATOES
8 chicken thighs, skin on (you could also use breasts or legs), approx. 3.5 pounds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup pesto (store bought or homemade recipe below)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
½ cup walnuts (or same nut that is in your pesto)
3 cups basil leaves, packed
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
½ cup good parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup pesto and spread the rest all over the chicken parts on both sides and under the skin. Place chicken in a large ziplock bag. Cut the lemon into 4 wedges and squeeze juice evenly over the chicken parts and put the rinds into the bag with the chicken. Massage to ensure lemon is distributed evenly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Let the pan get very hot and add chicken thighs, skin side down (discard lemon wedges). Let sear until the skin is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Place chicken, skin side up, in one layer in a 9” x 13” baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Toss the tomatoes and walnuts with remaining ¼ cup of pesto and add them to the pan, over the top of the chicken and return to the oven. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until cooked through (approx. 160-165 degrees). Serve over orzo tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Combine the basil, garlic, parmesan, nuts, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse multiple times until the basil is broken down and the ingredients are combined. Put the food processor on low speed and drizzle the olive in through the tube until a loose paste forms.