Casseroles are essentially stews cooked slowly in the oven, which would mean this quick pesto cream chicken casserole is a short cut version. It tastes as good, but the slow-oven cooking is replaced with a quick stove-top method. It takes 25 minutes, tops. Monday needs this dish.
My fridge is always filled with jars of pastes and flavour injectors, homemade pesto being one of our favourites. I always make a double batch of this pesto to toss through wholegrain pasta for an instant supper, or whisked into a comforting tomato soup. Lately, we’ve taken to spreading it onto our avocado toast, too.
For tonight’s easy supper, we’re relying on the gutsy flavours of pesto to brighten the sauce. It makes you think you’re somewhere else like say, Italy. When I want to get dinner done in a snap, one pan recipes that include vegetables, are even better. I’ve added zucchini to mine but you can replace it mushrooms or artichokes, if you prefer.
There are a couple of ways to serve this chicken, the obvious choice being pasta, creamy polenta or mashed potatoes. All three are fitting and simple. If you go the pasta route, cut the chicken into strips or bite-sized pieces before frying. A warm ciabatta bread is an eager bedfellow here and is, in fact, the answer for most saucy situations.
Quick pesto cream chicken casserole
- olive oil, for frying
- 4 free range chicken fillets
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 smallish zucchini, sliced ‘penne’ style
- 45ml (3 tablespoons) pesto
- 150ml hot chicken stock
- 250ml fresh cream
- 2 bay leaves
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
- lemon slices, to serve (optional)
- a handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wide-based pan. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Brown the chicken on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan.
- Add a drop more oil to the pan and sauté the onion for several minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Once the zucchini takes on some colour, add the pesto, chicken stock, cream and bay leaves. Bring the sauce up to the boil and return the chicken to the pan.
- Turn the heat down to medium and simmer without a lid for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken, cooked through.
- Add the lemon juice, lemon slices and scatter with chopped parsley. Toss with cooked pasta or on a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes.