Baked Pesto Chicken & Roasted Root Vegetables

It’s official. Winter has arrived.

I stumbled upon this recipe while trawling the net one nippy evening, searching for a warming dish that could be put together in a matter of minutes. I loved the simplicity of this three-ingredient wonder It also happens to be perfect for anyone wishing to reduce those carbs 😉

The roasted vegetables and the chicken are cooked at the same time, so it’s a really simple meal that’s perfect for a quick midweek supper or lazy weekend lunch.

Roasted Root Vegetables

The vegetables will take roughly 10 minutes longer to cook than the chicken dish, so best to get those into the oven first, while you prepare the chicken. We used a combination of baby leeks, carrots, parsnips and golden beets, all available at Woolworths. What’s good about these babies is that they can be roasted in their skins, but any combination of root vegetables that you have on hand will work just as well.

Preheat the oven to 190°C, and grease a baking tray or two. Toss the washed vegetables lightly in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and lay on the prepared baking trays, with enough space between them to prevent their steaming rather than roasting. Sprinkle over some sprigs of fresh thyme and roast for about 40 minutes until cooked through and caramelised on the edges.

Baked Pesto Chicken

4 chicken breast fillets (no skin, no bones)
1 jar Pesto Princess Basil Pesto*
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

*Our photographer & stylist, Sam Linsell of Drizzle and Dip, suggested that Thai Pesto could be used in place of the Basil to create a spicy version of this dish. Remember that the pesto can be diluted with 30 ml of boiling water, which will make it easier to spread over the chicken, and also make the dish a little less rich, if you prefer.

Slice each chicken fillet into 2 or 3 strips. This way the chicken will soak up plenty of pesto flavour. Choose an oven-proof casserole into which the chicken will fit snugly in a single layer. Grease the casserole with olive oil or butter and spread half of the pesto (diluted if you wish) over the bottom of the dish. Pack the chicken fillets on top of the pesto in a single layer, and finish the dish by spreading the remaining pesto over the chicken pieces. Cover the dish with foil, to prevent the chicken from drying out, and bake in the oven, along with the roasted vegetables for 25 minutes, until just cooked through.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the mozzarella. Return for a last blast of about 5 minutes in the oven, this time without the foil. Finally put the dish under the grill for a few minutes until it smells tantalising, and a golden-brown crust has formed.

You may need something to soak up those delicious juices that will have collected at the bottom of the dish. Serve with the roasted vegetables, and perhaps some crusty bread, good old mashed potato, or cauliflower mash for the complete low carb, high fat alternative.

Michael Olivier, our palace wine guru, recommends the delicate flavours of the Kaapzicht Chardonnay 2009 as the perfect wine to partner with this warming winter dish.

Michael Olivier’s Choice

Kaapzicht Chardonnay 2009

It looks like: Gold straw in colour, gem bright.
It smells like: Creamy windfall citrus, white flowers and layers of butterscotch with toasted hazelnuts and vanilla from the oak barrels.
It tastes like: The citrus coming through and baked apple, nice lemon squirt on the long and gently waning aftertaste. Delicate, elegant wine.


Styling & photography – Sam Linsell
Art direction & design – Roxanne Spears of Good Design


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