Basil Is Our Favorite Herb

Hands down, basil is our favorite herb; we seriously can not make enough pesto each summer. We know that many of our friends are trying to cut down on carbs and are avoiding pasta, so we have found a great use for all of our pesto. We slather it on grilled chicken breast. Try it for yourself! Pro tip: Pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays and defrosted as needed over the next several months. 

Pesto Smothered Grilled Chicken Breast. Photo by Frances Janisch

Pesto Smothered Grilled Chicken Breast. Photo by Frances Janisch

Pesto Smothered Grilled Chicken Breasts

The hot days of summer cause our garden to grow like wildfire.  We usually have a bumper crop of basil:  And what better way to use it, than to make delicious homemade pesto?  

For the chicken:

  • 4 whole boneless chicken breasts, halved
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Whole basil leaves for garnish
  • Sliced lemons for garnish

In a glass baking pan, marinate the chicken in olive oil, 2 tablespoons of pesto, salt,  pepper, and lemon juice.  Coat both sides of the breasts well.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

When ready to serve, grill the chicken approximately 5-7 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

For the Pesto

  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ¼ cup pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
  • ¼ pound Romano Cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup Olive oil


Cut the cheese into 1 to 2 inch chunks.  Place in the food processor and process until coarsely grated. Add in the pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, and basil leaves.  Process for approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute, until you have a thick paste.  Use a scraper to push down the sides. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the push-tube until you have a thick liquid.  Add salt to taste if necessary. Transfer to an air tight container and set aside.  Do not refrigerate if you plan on using the same day. 



Arrange the grilled chicken on a large serving platter.  Spoon pesto over the entire platter.  Garnish with sliced lemons and whole basil leaves.  Serve.


Wine Pairings:

Carpineto Dogajolo Bianco, Chardonnay, Grechetto, and Sauvignon Blanc, Tuscany, Italy

A medium bodied Chardonnay, Dogajolo complements the vibrant freshness of home made pesto. 


St. Michael Eppan, Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige, Italy

Smooth and slightly racy, this 100% Pinot Bianco from the foothills of the Italian Alps is ideal with this earthy pesto.


From THE FIRE ISLAND COOKBOOK Copyright © 2012 by The World Wine Guys, LLC published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.