Pesto- and Avocado-Stuffed Chicken

This post is well over due… oops! Last week, we had two small chickens (they were on sale at the store, packaged together, so we couldn’t resist even though they were not on our shopping list) and we needed to find someway to make use of them or else butcher them further to freeze the parts. Freezing a whole chicken is something I’ve never attempted, nor do I ever want to; and cutting it up to freeze it in pieces just seemed like so much work. :p

So, instead, we nixed a one or two other planned meals and made the chickens. Tuesday night, after dinner, I set to making homemade pesto for our first roast chicken. Brent or I (honestly, I don’t remember who’s idea it was) thought stuffing the chicken with pesto would be more interesting that the standard lemon and garlic roast chicken. In addition, to try adding texture and substance, we agreed we’d crisp up some of the shredded white sweet potato (seriously, we had a lot of this stuff–it’s gone into a ton of recipes lately!) and add that plus some avocado to the chicken cavity.


Ok, so here we go with official ingredients and process…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 package of basil (about 3 to 4 cups)
  • 1 whole chicken (ours was about 2 and 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/4 cup of shredded white sweet potato
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or enough olive oil to brush over the entire chicken)
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Blend the olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, basil and a pinch of salt in a food processor or blender. Ta da! You now have a very basic, homemade pesto. 🙂
3. Spread out the shredded white sweet potato on a baking sheet. Bake in the over for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until at least some are crispy.
Meanwhile, prepare the chicken: remove any gizzards and other internal business, rinse it under cold water, and pat dry with a paper towel. Place on the rack in your roasting pan.
4. Brush the entire chicken (top, bottom and sides, but not the inside) with olive oil.
5. Chop the half of avocado.
6. Gently mix the avocado, shredded sweet potato and pesto together in a medium bowl.
7. Using a big spoon, ladle or your hands to scoop the pesto mixture into the cavity of the chicken.
8. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper–as much as you like. Also, tie the legs closed with cooking twine.
9. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer reads 175 degrees when inserted into the breast of the chicken.
We like to roast our chickens closer to 20 minutes per pound because you can always cook more if it comes out under done; you can’t undo overcooking.
Our chicken came out incredibly moist, and the skin was just a little crispy. If you like really crispy skin, crank up the heat at the beginning or the end for about 10 to 20 minutes.
When serving, make sure you scoop out some of the sweet and savory pesto mixture from inside the chicken. I’ll admit, I was a bit leery of the combination of avocado, sweet potato, and pesto; but it was really tasty! Some sweet, some salt, some savory, a little crisp from the skin and a good portion of creamy goodness from the stuffing over the slices of moist chicken breast… delicious!

Seafood Pesto Pasta

Tonight, Brent and I enjoyed a new experiment. We’re calling it seafood pesto pasta. Last week, I made a pesto from scratch for a roasted chicken; we also had some scallops and shrimp in the freezer. So this weekend we bought a spaghetti squash and tonight we threw it all together.


Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 8-10 scallops (uncooked)
  • 3 cups of small shrimp (already cooked)
  • 1/3 cup of pesto (homemade, if possible)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bake the spaghetti squash for 60 to 90 minutes, until tender (ours needed just 75 minutes).
  3. Let the spaghetti squash cool for 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Cut the squash in half, length-wise. 
  5. Scoop out and discard the seeds; then, package one half for use at another time. (Unless your squash is super small. We only needed half because ours was pretty big.)
  6. Shred flesh of the remaining half of the squash into a bowl.
  7. Melt the ghee over medium high heat in a pan.
  8. Sauté the garlic in the ghee for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. 
  9. Sauté the shrimp in the garlic and ghee for about 3 to 4 minutes, until heated through.
  10. Remove the shrimp from the pan and place in a bowl to the side. 
  11. Sauté the scallops in the garlic and ghee for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until cooked through.
  12. Remove the scallops from the pan and place in the bowl with the shrimp. 
  13. Toss the shrimp, scallops and shredded spaghetti squash with the pesto in a large bowl. 
  14. Serve and enjoy!
This recipe is great to do together. While I handled cutting and shredding the spaghetti squash, Brent took care of the shrimp and scallops. 
It didn’t take quite like I expected. The spaghetti squash was stronger in flavor than I expected, but it was still really good. Traditional pasta provides a bland, starchy canvass for pesto and any protein you add to it. Rather than the heaviness you find with pasta, the whole dish was light and yet still filling. 
We hope you find this as fun and delicious as we did.