Wade on Birmingham

Birmingham’s Best Eats: Homemade pesto adds arugula for spicy kick to chicken pasta dish


By Elisa Muñoz

Panko-crusted chicken with arugula-basil pesto is my go-to recipe.

Birmingham's Best EatsThis easy meal impresses every time, with its powerful punch of flavors and textures from the breaded chicken and the spicy/sweet pesto. (The pesto can be made ahead to make things easier.) It’s also incredibly filling and satisfying.

The abundance of basil and spicy arugula makes this a great summertime dish. Add a bit of red wine, some crusty French bread, along with an interesting dining partner and good tunes for a terrific evening.

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Panko-crusted chicken with arugula-basil pesto

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 2


For pesto:

  • 1 cup fresh arugula (we used Jones Valley Urban Farm)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (also Jones Valley Urban Farm)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (toast for 2 minutes in the oven)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste
  • 1/4 cup oil (we used canola)


  • Pasta

For garnish:

  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Pesto: Combine arugula, basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until chunky and combined. Slowly add olive oil while processor is running until everything is combined, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the cheese, salt, pepper and lemon juice and pulse three to four more times until it is incorporated. (Unused pesto can be kept in the freezer or the refrigerator for later use.)

Chicken: Using a meat mallet, pound the meat to about 1/4-inch thick. (Instead, we covered the chicken with wax paper and slammed a heavy skillet against them.) Whisk the egg in a bowl and set aside. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese and seasonings on a plate or shallow bowl, mixing well. Dredge chicken breasts in egg, then the breadcrumb mixture, coating thoroughly. Heat a skillet to medium and warm oil until water pops in it. Carefully lower the chicken into the skillet. Cook on each side for about 4 minutes, until fully cooked.

Suggestion: Cook two servings of pasta (we used penne). Drain. Add 2 tablespoons pesto, stirring to cover pasta. On a plate, pile half the arugula, half the pasta and a chicken breast, then top with some Parmesan; repeat for second plate.

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Elisa MuñozElisa Muñoz is an avid cyclist and a food activist. In addition to founding and helping run the Bici Bicycle Cooperative, she is the program coordinator for Greater Birmingham Community Food Partners. Her thoughts on cycling and life in Birmingham can be found on Bike Skirt (@bikeskirt), a blog she co-writes.
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Hungry for more? Check out the menu of Birmingham’s Best Eats!

1 Yip for “Birmingham’s Best Eats: Homemade pesto adds arugula for spicy kick to chicken pasta dish”

  1. Tweets that mention Wade on Birmingham » Birmingham’s Best Eats: Homemade pesto adds arugula for spicy kick to chicken pasta dish -- Topsy.com
    Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 1:01 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wade Kwon, elisa and Dan Schumacher, Jason Horn. Jason Horn said: RT @WadeOnTweets: Bham's Best Eats: Elisa @bikeskirt makes chicken w/ arugula-basil pesto. Yum! http://itswa.de/bbe-arugula-pesto #bhameats […]

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