While on the way back to Seattle from the most incredible fishing trip in Canada with my father and my husband, we stopped at a local grocery store in Campbell River, British Columbia to see if we could find any interested kosher items that aren’t readily available in The States. To be honest with you, I didn’t even think we would find kosher food since I’m pretty sure there aren’t any religious Jews even living in Campbell River, but it’s always fun to go on a kosher scavenger hunt in small towns. My father insisted we would find a few items since he had been to this store before, so we walked in to one of the cleanest and most beautiful grocery stores I have ever seen and the search began. We found a few funky sauces, such as a plum dipping sauce and some Indian marinades, but my favorite find was the avocado oil. I credit Justin for finding it, so thanks babe! I’m sure you can find kosher avocado oil somewhere in the United States, probably even in New York where I live, but I haven’t found it yet, so we took one small bottle back with us. Now that I think about it, we should have bought more. Darn! Well, right on the side of the bottle was a recipe for avocado oil pesto and it looked fantastic, so I based my first recipe using this specialty oil on the bottles suggestion. My mother and I took Zach to Pike Place Market and bought all of the fresh ingredients for the pesto, along with bags and bags of other incredibly beautiful produce (which will be featured in a future post about the market), and I got cooking. Of course, using my parents big kitchen in Seattle was a bit tricky since I didn’t know where anything was, but once I got the hang of it, the pesto was a breeze. And I just love the way their granite looks in my pictures. Too bad I can’t switch out the dark navy granite in my own kitchen. Now wouldn’t that be insane!
Avocado Oil Pesto Chicken
7 Tbsp cilantro (or parsley, if you don’t like or can’t find cilantro)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup avocado oil
5 1/4 Tbsp peanuts (you can also use cashews or pistachios)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon, wedged for cooking and garnish
6 pieces of chicken, any kind you want
To get things started, I sliced the bright yellow lemon in half and couldn’t believe how much juice I was able to squeeze out of it in to the food processor. I guess that’s Pike Place Market quality for you. I set aside the other half of the lemon for cooking with the chicken. To optimize the amount of juice that you can squeeze from the lemon, roll it back and forth a few times under the palm of your hand to get the juices flowing. I then crushed the garlic by placing the whole unpeeled clove under the flat side of a large wide knife and, using the palm of my hand, pressed the blade down on the clove, crushing it and splitting the skin. I peeled the garlic, discarding the skin, and added that to the processor. Tip: If you don’t use gloves while crushing the garlic and are left with a lingering garlic smell, just rub your hands on stainless steel, such as a sink or faucet handle, before washing with soap and water.
The original recipe on the side of the bottle called for cashews, but we found the most delicious peanuts at the market so I made the executive decision to use those instead. I used the unsalted peanuts, but you can certainly use salted if you want. Just don’t add extra salt to the pesto without tasting it first or you might end up with sodium overload. I shelled the peanuts, eating a few along the way, then set them aside for later.
Since all of the ingredients were prepared and ready to go, I added the whole cilantro to the food processor with the garlic and lemon juice and chopped until all of the ingredients were combined.
While the processor was on, I slowly added the avocado oil to combine. Check out the color of that oil. Isn’t it gorgeous?
I then added the peanuts for some texture, using the same process as the oil, and the pesto was ready to use. Even with using the unsalted peanuts, I didn’t think any salt or pepper needed to be added, but that is up to your taste buds. I could taste the flavor of a creamy avocado from the oil and the cilantro and lemon juice added a burst of freshness. Yum!
The pesto was delicious and could have just been used as a dip or over a plate of room temperature pasta, but I was making a special dinner for my brother and sister-in-law (really, I was bribing my techy brother to help me with a few things for kitchen-tested.com) and wanted to make a hearty dinner for them. I poured the intensely green pesto over chicken, added the lemon wedges, and baked uncovered for 1 hour at 350 degrees. The chicken was tender and filled with the flavors of avocado, lemon and peanuts. I served it along side simple quinoa and a very-dressed spicy salad. The bribe worked and my bro helped me out!