From Scratch: Pesto roast chicken (recipe,video) | SummitDaily.com

From Scratch: Pesto roast chicken (recipe,video)

Pesto roast chicken — I promise this will become your once-a-week-go-to-dinner. It's so easy and delicious.

I first taught myself to cook because I didn't want to spend the holidays alone. I was fresh out of college, a neophyte on Wall Street and too busy to fly home at Thanksgiving or Christmas. So, I used to read the latest issues of Gourmet magazine and plan elaborate meals using the trendiest ingredients and complicated instructions. While my dinners might have been a success, I was a frazzled mess by the time dinner was served.

Over the years, I've discovered that what really brings friends and family to the table are simple, delicious meals that allow the cook to enjoy being in the kitchen and free to talk with guests and to come to the table relaxed and proud of a meal that is reliable time and again.

Today's meal ticks off all of those boxes.

It's the perfect weeknight meal yet special enough to serve when you want to invite friends for a weekend dinner. You can get it into the oven in 10 minutes or less. Then, while it cooks for an hour, pour yourself a glass of wine, sit down and enjoy a relaxed conversation with family and friends. You'll love it and so will your guests.

Best of all? You can change it up endlessly, so that it can become a reliable part of your weekly menu, and you'll never get bored. For instance, instead of pesto, make a paste of butter, garlic and rosemary. Instead of carrots and potatoes, add Brussel sprouts or sweet potatoes. Or create a paste of butter, cumin, chili powder and lime, and roast the chicken with corn on the cob and a colorful variety of bell peppers, and serve with rice. Enjoy the fun of creating variations that reflect the season and what's fresh in your grocery's produce section.

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PESTO ROAST CHICKEN WITH POTATOES AND VEGETABLES

1. Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit.

2. Create the kale pesto: In a food processor, add 1 bunch kale leaves, 3 garlic cloves, ¼ cup almonds, salt & pepper, pulse and add olive oil to create a wet paste.

3. Chop the 4 potatoes and 6 carrots into large chunks. Toss them with the kale pesto.

4. Cut the backbone out of the chicken and press the breastbone, so that it flattens the chicken. Gently separate the skin from the chicken breast and scoop a large tablespoon of kale into the pocket. Then massage the bird front and back with the kale pesto.

5. In a large cast iron skillet (or baking dish), place potatoes and vegetables on the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and vegetables (This will allow the juices from the chicken to flavor the potatoes and vegetables as they roast). Place the pan in the oven and roast at 400 Fahrenheit for 1 hour or until the juices of the chicken run clear.

THIS WEEK'S COOKBOOK REVIEW

"My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life" by Ruth Reichl

Do you remember Gourmet magazine? If you're someone who loves to cook or enjoys reading about food, Gourmet magazine was probably one of your favorite cooking magazines.

Unfortunately, it became a victim of the economic downturn and was closed down in 2009. At the time, Ruth Reichl, former New York Times restaurant critic and author of several food-themed memoirs, was the editor-in-chief.

In "My Kitchen Year," Reichl presents a memorable reflection of the shutdown of the magazine and then the year afterward in which she mourned the loss of not only her job, but the difficult transition of creating a new career as an older woman.

As the title promises, "My Kitchen Year" includes 136 classic recipes that are bound to bring pleasure to you and your guests. They are easy, accessible, and you can be sure that they are the best versions.

As a side note, I first listened to the audiobook version, read by the author. If you love audiobooks as much as I do, I highly recommend this one. Ruth's voice is perfect. However, I also want to add the paper version to my cookbook library.

You can pick up a copy of this week's cookbook at The Next Page Bookstore at 409 Main St., Frisco (970) 668-9291.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson is the author of 10 books, including a cookbook: Comfort Me: Easy Meals to Bring Your Family Back to the Table Join Suzanne at: http://www.facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths or http://www.suzanneelizabeths.com.

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