Monday, June 8, 2009

Ugly Food: Chicken Edition

Ugly is the new pretty. You heard it here first ... or maybe you didn't.

I was all set to do a post about my ugly, yet completely scrumptious, chicken today - and after browsing my reader I see I'm not alone. In fact, I'm in fine company ... doggybloggy, of Chez What, beat me to it! And, frankly, he's far more inventive than I am. I just made some ugly chicken, but the dogg made onion rings parmesan! Check it out. I won't call it ugly, but I'd like to call it dinner.

I'm not sure my chicken is really ugly either ... though that photo's not about to win any prizes. The chicken, however, is as yummy as can be - and easy too. I've adapted this recipe from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook and the results were magnificent.

Pesto Pepper Chicken:
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • hot Hungarian paprika
  • some skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of pesto (either jarred or homemade)
  • some jarred roasted piquillo peppers, sliced into strips
  • some shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • some lemon wedges
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Dust the chicken breasts with some salt, pepper and a bit of Hungarian paprika on both sides. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat and brown the chicken quickly on both sides, turning it once. You just want a little color here, no need to cook them through out. Remove from skillet when browned and reserve.

Place 1/2 of the pesto in the bottom of an oven-safe baking dish and lay the chicken breasts over the pesto. Top the chicken with the remaining pesto in an even layer, cover the dish with foil and bake in the middle of a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Uncover the dish and top the chicken with some pepper strips and a bit of mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and browned - about 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and serve with a wedge of lemon for sprinkling over at table. Enjoy!

I took a little short cut on this one and used some pre-made basil pesto. If you've got your own stuff, more's the better. This is a quick, healthy and delicious recipe that's just perfect for a weeknight meal. Round it out with a nice big salad or a lovely steamed veg and you'll have dinner on the table with time to spare. Bonus ... you can use the extra time to contemplate doggybloggy's mysterious give-away today. He's posted a picture and if you can guess what it is, you'll be given a chance to win ... whatever it is! Good luck!

I'm off to stare at that picture some more. In the meantime, what's your favorite kind of pesto? Are you a basil traditionalist? Or do you like to get a little crazy with your herbage? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetit!


Heavenly Housewife said...

With those ingredients, it is probably delicious. Besides, when my brain sees melted cheese, all it sees is "good". Its unfortunate that some foods just dont photograph well.

doggybloggy said...

now I see what people mean - I have to say this does not look ugly to me...isnt that funny...

stephchows said...

Sometimes food needs to be ugly :) thanks for the welcome back! Good to be home :)

The Diva on a Diet said...

HH - it really was good ... just not picturesque. LOL

doggy - perhaps its just the baking dish that looks ugly ... but nothing a little scrub couldn't handle. :)

Steph - so glad you're back ... I missed you! Hope the trip was wonderful!

Anonymous said...

It sounds wonderful, actually. And the picture isn't bad, but it really takes the pressure off. I might try to make this tonight!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Kimizzy - excellent, I'm all about no pressure! And this meal sure fits that bill. Let me know how it goes!

Christie's Corner said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one to make ugly food. I keep hoping it will catch on.

I figure, as long as the dish tastes good, you can dim the lights and enjoy the meal.

I love chicken and pesto, and this sounds like an delicious way to eat both.

Christie's Corner said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one to make ugly food. I keep hoping it will catch on.

I figure, as long as the dish tastes good, you can dim the lights and enjoy the meal.

I love chicken and pesto, and this sounds like an delicious way to eat both.

The Blonde Duck said...

It looked good to me!

Marta said...

Some of my favourite food is the uggliest! I'm all about the gloomy-toned stews and unidentifiable chicken dishes! This looks fantastic!

aoife mc said...

I'm with you on the ugly food front, sometimes it really is the yummiest! Comfort food like this ain't supposed to be pretty anyway. I might try this once we're back from Oz!

Deb said...

The chicken looks fabulous to me! I LOVE pesto and I'm usually a purist for basil but have been wanting to experiment with some of the other flavors - after all chimichurri sauce is just a South American version of pesto and it is Delish!

Anonymous said...

Love the flavor combination of pesto, cheese, and peppers. Foods like this are the best stuff even if they are not picture perfect. I made jerk chicken with plantains the other day and it was so good but so very brown :)

do you think you have it? said...

ugly is the new delicious :) that looks so good. too bad i BURNED my hand making dinner today. sad life. but yes, i am back! i've been away at school and it seems that all i really do there is study and date mormons, so i stayed away for a while. here's to a summer full of great stories ;)

The Duo Dishes said...

We have made many an ugly dish...some things just don't photograph well. Or perhaps we don't photograph them well? Semantics! If it's good, it's good.

Anonymous said...

Since you said it first, I can agree that this is one ugly plate of food. But, I also can believe that it tastes great. Maybe this would be a good dish to serve at one of those dining in the dark restaurants?

The Diva on a Diet said...

Charmian - Here's to the ugly food trend! The way my pics have turned out of late ... its already well under way. LOL

Blonde Duck - aw, thanks!

Marta - you're right about those gloomy stews, etc. Sometimes the ugly stuff is the most delicious and comforting.

Aoife - Bon Voyage! I can't wait to hear about your trip.

Deb - the chimichurri would make a wonderful variation on this. Great idea! If you try it, let me know how it goes.

5 Star - LOL about the jerk chicken ... you're so right, its not picturesque ... but so yummy!

Having It - "ugly is the new delicious" ... now why didn't *I* think of that?! ;) Good to have you back!

Duo - in my case its definitely a little of both! LOL

Dana - fortunately the taste more than made up for the ugliness. Phew! ;)

Tangled Noodle said...

Who you callin' ugly? I'll take this dish over a perfectly composed plate of a bite-sized cube of Kobe beef with a half-thimbleful of reduction. I just picked up a jar of piquillo peppers and I have plenty of pesto!

I do like traditional basil and pignola pesto but I love trying different combinations. I've seen a lot using arugula - currently my most favorite green!