Arugula Pesto with Grilled Chicken – Use your Imagination

So much of the magic of cooking lies in letting your imagination take over, and being adventurous enough to overcome fear and simply go for it. Sure, you might wind up with an occasional miss, but I have found that when cooking intuitively, usually the outcomes are positive.


Course: Main Course or Salad   Cuisine: A Unique Charlie Special    Prep Time: 20 Minutes   Cook Time: 25 Minutes   Servings: 4


1 cup tightly-packed arugala, stems removed

1/2 cup Pine nuts or blanched almonds

1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil

For this recipe we’re using Portucal brand extra virgin cold extraction olive oil, recommended by our friend Don Pepe

Three full heads (not cloves!) of garlic, peeled

1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, an Italian, hard granular cheese

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (I prefer Maldon’s Sea Salt flakes, available at Raley’s)

4 skin-on chicken breasts (I prefer bone-in as it keeps the moisture in the meat and increases flavor).


Lightly season the breasts with salt, pepper and garlic.

To prep the Arugala Pest, run ingredients through a food processor, adding a bit of each at a time and pulse until creamy and smooth.

Chicken breasts can be cooked over a medium-low grill or oven, with a light drizzle of olive oil. If using an oven, bake at 350 degrees, approximately 25 minutes. There is no need to turn the breasts during the baking process, but do check with a meat thermometer, looking for an internal temperature of 164 degrees.

If grilling, do so for 15 minutes per side for a 5 to 6 ounce chicken breast. Always check for the internal temperature as noted above.


I recommend serving with Jasmine Rice and a nice fresh salad with veggies from our wonderful 3rd & Curry Street Farmer’s Market, which takes place Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the last Saturday in September.

For beverage, visit The Fox and ask for a growler of whatever IPA they’ve got, or if you prefer wine, go with a Pinot Grigio.

Run ingredients through a food processor until creamy and smooth. Now since I have been so blessed with a bumper crop of arugala, a by-product of being home to tend it daily, I have been making this in big batches and freezing it for use later. It does freeze well, and all you need to do is measure out a cup or two in a freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, label it and put it away for later use.