It all started with a quick pesto pasta salad I hurriedly plucked off of the internet for a busy weeknight meal. I could buy prepared pesto, saute some vegetables, and call it dinner. Voila. But then we ended up landing upon a beautiful bunch of local, organic basil so I passed on the prepared pesto. And it just so happened that, on the night I was supposed to prepare this simple meal, I was feeling inspired to do something different.

Now, I’m not one to cook ultra fancy meals. I’m usually short enough on time that slaving away for hours in the kitchen isn’t much of an option. But I do like my food to appeal to all of the senses, not just olfactory and gustation. I want to prepare it in such a way that it’s attractive, that I take a moment to admire it visually. Not to the point where I hesitate to dig in, but that it makes me stall enough to notice how I feel, how it smells, how it looks, which bite to taste first.

Instead of throwing together this pell-mell of a pesto salad, I looked in the fridge and grabbed anything that was visually intriguing. Now, I was very fortunate that it was early in the week and we had just loaded up on goods from the farmer’s market and grocery. There were all kinds of colors, flavors, and textures to choose from.

One thing worth understanding about me is that I hate clutter. I’ll eat something completely random out of the fridge when there is barely any left in the container for the satisfaction of discarding the container and freeing up space in the fridge. I knew I needed to use up that fresh basil, but we had a couple of tablespoons left of some miso that required our attention as well lest it go bad.

With a vague idea in my head, I instructed Chris to sear the chicken slowly in the cast iron skillet, covering it with a lid so as not to dry it out, and mildly seasoning it with salt, pepper, fresh ginger and lime, and sesame oil. Meanwhile, I began prepping an asian slaw of rainbow carrots, radicchio, green beans, and napa cabbage. I pureed the basil, miso, and citrus in the blender, tasting and adding ingredients as I went.

Sometimes you just get lucky. It was stunning, the chicken was tender and juicy, and all of the flavors screamed summer. We gobbled it up, going back for seconds and thirds. Talk about the idyllic summer keto dinner!

Chicken Topped Asian Salad with Miso Pesto

Ingredients – serves 4

Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Salad

  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 1 cup napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup green beans, thinly sliced
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • sesame seeds, as garnish

Basil-Miso Pesto

  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 T miso
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T tahini

Directions

  1. Make the salad: assemble all the vegetables in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Make the dressing: place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Make the chicken:
    1. Heat sesame oil in a cast iron skillet with the burner on medium-low.
    2. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and ginger.
    3. Please chicken in the skillet, cover with plate or lid, and cook for 6 minutes.
    4. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 6 minutes, lid on.
    5. Remove the lid, and season chicken with lime zest. Check with a meat thermometer and continue cooking until center has reached 165 degrees F.
  4. Divide salad into four bowls, placing 4 ounces of chicken on top. Garnish with pesto, cilantro, and sesame seeds.

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