There are a few things I always look forward to when I go home to Chicago. First, seeing my family (duh) and especially it’s newest addition, my nephew Owen. And second, cooking in my Mom’s amazing kitchen with my grill-master dad ready to assist. This visit I was in charge of a Mother’s Day BBQ, but needed to come up with a few ideas that wouldn’t take too long as to maximize baby time. So, I made this relatively easy but super impressive meal, Bruschetta Grilled Chicken Breasts with Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta Salad. A little more impressive than the usual burgers and dogs, right?
This chicken recipe will definitely be a new go to. I marinated it in a simple balsamic/garlic/oil mixture but you can also just use a bottled balsamic dressing. Grill the chicken, and top with a mixture of fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, basil, and garlic, with a drizzle of oil and vinegar. For the pasta salad, just throw any veggies you like into the oven to roast, and meanwhile, boil some whole wheat pasta. Toss it all together with store bought or homemade pesto and chill til you’re ready to eat it.
Check out the grill master at work…
And now the final product. You want that.
Nutritional Highlights: BBQs can be a deadly thing…most of the traditional items, burgers, hotdogs, pasta salad, are not the best for you. This is a great recipe that will satisfy all bbq-goers and not be detrimental to your plans to wear a bathing suit come memorial day. We all know that chicken is a lean protein source, but go organic if you can afford it. The topping has tons of antioxidant rich tomatoes. For pasta salad, always choose whole grain pasta and load it up with veggies so you eat less of the actual pasta part of it. I’d also add a salad to this meal, but I just needed to get back to my adorable nephew. See below…you get why I don’t want to be trapped in the kitchen now.
• 4 chicken breasts (if they are very unevenly thick, you may want to pound them out a bit for easier cooking)
• 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing (or make your own by mixing balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper)
For Bruschetta Topping
• 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
• 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil
• 4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
• ½ small garlic clove, finely minced (could also sub garlic powder)
• Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar
• salt and pepper to taste
1. Marinade chicken breasts in balsamic vinaigrette for at least 1 hour (but more is even better). I like to poke a few holes in my chicken breasts with a fork so the flavor can really penetrate.
2. While chicken is marinating, combine brushcetta topping and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
3. Grill chicken until it is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes but varies depending on thickness of your chicken)
4. Top chicken with bruschetta topping and enjoy.
Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta Salad
For 4-6 servings
• 2 cups whole wheat penne (or other whole wheat pasta of your choosing)
• 4 cups mixed vegetables, cut into pieces for roasting (I used red pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and asparagus)
• ½ cup pesto (store bought or homemade)
• Olive oil, salt, and pepper
• Preheat oven to 400 and put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta
• Put vegetables in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt pepper (I also added red pepper flakes and garlic powder here). Spread veggies on a large baking sheet.
• Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until vegetables have softened and browned.
• Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.
• Combined pasta, roasted vegetables, and toss with pesto sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve for a bbq but this would also be delish as a hot meal as well!