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Poached Chicken with Wild Garlic Pesto – Making Diet Food Tasty
The healthiest of food can suddenly turn into something rich and calorific quite easily. Butter and cream based sauces will simply blow the calorie allowance for a 5:2 diet fast day – and frying, even in healthy olive oil, can wreck any attempt at keeping under the 500 calorie a day limit. Poaching seems a bit too close to invalid food – until you realise that you CAN add in extra herbs and spices – and that done properly it simply ensures that your poultry or fish doesn’t dry out or lose flavour.
I have a jar of foraged wild garlic pesto in the fridge from my recent visit to Frome. And I’ve been desperate to try it. But, since I’ve also been travelling a lot, almost every day I’ve had at home has involved having 5:2 diet fast. So, eating bowls of pasta simply isn’t on the agenda. This recipe came from a desire to try the pesto coupled with wanting to see if I could perk up poached chicken without adding a rich cream-based sauce. And it worked like a dream – a lush creamy filling made with just a little cream cheese and pesto paired with succulent and tender chicken breast cooked in the healthiest possible way. You could make this recipe using my easy nut-free pesto too if you happen to have basil in your garden.
To poach chicken easily you need microwave friendly clingfilm (look for saran wrap) to wrap it in. If you are worried about using clingfilm, muslin works too, just wrap your chicken breast up in a square and tie up tightly with chefs string. And a pan of just simmering (not boiling) water. The best result will come from having the water simmering very, very gently for 20-25 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breast. You could use any kind of pesto with this dish, or play around with other flavours for the filling. I’m planning to experiment with ham slices and also with a richer cheese when it isn’t a fast day.
- 1 Small Skinless Chicken Breast About 100-120g
- 1 teaspoon Pesto I used wild garlic pesto, but any variety will work
- 1 teaspoon Low fat cream cheese I used Philadelphia lightest
- Salt and pepper
- 1 handful Fresh Parsley
- Take the chicken breast and layer it between two pieces of cling film on a chopping board. Beat it out with a rolling pin until you have a neat piece of meat no more than 1/4cm thick.
- Mix the pesto and cream cheese together and season with salt and pepper
- spread it all over the chicken just up to the edges
- Roll the chicken up like a swiss roll and wrap well in clingfilm and then in foil. Make sure your clingfilm is microwave safe (e.g. won't taint the meat!)
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, add a little salt and then put the chicken in gently
- Allow to simmer (not boil) very gently for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Lay out some kitchen paper on a chopping board and carefully unwrap your poached chicken. Cut into neat slices and plate up with a green vegetable of your choice (here I used some lemon courgettes, but this dish works well with asparagus or spinach too)
- Serve garnished with fresh parsley (especially if you are using wild garlic pesto like me!)
This recipe comes in at around 210 calories for a small chicken breast. I served it with lemon griddled courgettes (just griddle or dry fry courgette slices then dress with lemon juice and a dash of olive oil) and enjoyed a large bowl of my tomato soup using the recipe I posted last month (it freezes very well). An easy and healthy 5:2 fast day menu.