Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mr. Right's Baked Pesto Chicken

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: It’s quite wonderful to be married to a man who enjoys cooking. For Christmas the year we spent a month in France, we bought each other French cookbooks and new chef’s knives—proving once again that a happy marriage is built on the ability to read each other’s minds. Okay, maybe not. But shared interests do matter, as does the ability to tolerate digressions.

We’d always loved eating and enjoyed cooking. But that trip changed everything for us. We came home and learned to cook in a different way, paying much more attention to the major differences in flavor and result that minor differences in technique produced. Mr. Right actually learned to cook from a recipe, something previously unheard of. (I do the baking.) His recipe-less cooking has produced many household favorites, including the Eggs Romanoff and Omelet Muffins I've shared with you.

We’d had Caprese salads before that fateful trip, of course, but the Caprese salads we ate in a tiny café in Giverny and in a corner brasserie in Paris remain with us. And their flavors inspired today’s offering. We’ve served it to guests on the back deck in summer, and huddled over our plates in front of the fireplace in winter.

The tastes of summer, and France, anytime, anywhere.

A note on amounts and ingredients: As you might expect of a recipe from Mr. Right, there are no amounts given. "To taste” is the motto here. We’ve also made this as a stuffed chicken, slicing the chicken breast partway, and tucking pesto and a little mozzarella inside. Fresh, water-packed mozzarella is too runny and the brick style a little too firm; the in-between version is readily available, and just right. The version pictured does not include mozzarella. Both equally yummy. You decide. 

Congratulations to Peg Cochran on the release today of DEAD AND BERRIED, the 3d Cranberry Cove Mystery!

Mr. Right’s Baked Pesto Chicken

2 chicken breasts
one large slicer tomato
basil pesto
mozzarella (optional; see note above)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Flatten the chickens slightly. Brush with pesto. (Or slice open and brush a little pesto inside, then tuck in a slice of mozzarella.) Top with sliced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Top with grated Parmesan. Bake in a glass dish 25-30 minutes, until golden. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. 

As with all lunch and dinner inspired by the French and Italians, best served with fresh country-style bread, a green salad, and a crisp white wine or very light red.

Bon appetit!

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 8, 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. I've had something like this before and it's delicious! thanks Leslie

    1. It may not be in the canon of French Country Cooking, but maybe it should be!

  2. This looks so pretty.
    With those ingredients I'm sure it tastes great, too.

  3. This recipe looks amazing -- I will definitely need to try it. And now I'm also craving Caprese salad. You can never have too much basil ~

    1. Now there's a motto I can live by -- "You can never have too much basil." Thanks, Celia!

  4. That looks fabulous! I wonder if it could even be tweaked for grilling during the summer - I may have to try! Also, what a wonderful memory of your time in France! Nicole :-)

    1. Nicole, we haven't tried this on the outdoor grill yet, but Mr. Right often grills another stuffed chicken recipe. I'd make a slit and go for a stuffed chicken, then top it at the end.

  5. Made this tonight & the only addition was a garnish of crumbled bacon. Served with roasted potato wedges, squash & asparagus. Delicious!

  6. Looks great. I love how your hubby cooks, lol. I do the same thing. Would never know any amount of anything I use. This is the perfect recipe for me! Thanks. Cant wait to read your new book!

    1. Thanks, Kay. This book features a recipe for Caprese Kabobs -- you'd think I love basil, cheese, and tomatoes. Oh, right -- I do!