Hazelnut Crusted Chicken with Spinach Pesto Pasta

Hazelnut Crusted Chicken with Spinach Pesto Pasta

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Hazelnut Crusted Chicken with Spinach Pesto Pasta

I want to tell you about my blogging friend, Verla Fortier.  She is this beautiful, vibrant gal who looks half her age, because of her love of trees and exercise in the great outdoors.  She’s a passionate, happy woman who positively glows.  Hiking, skiing and skating (on a frozen river – I’ve never heard of such a thing!!) in 25° below temperatures?  Yes, she does, in the beautiful forests of Manitoba.  If you’re looking for inspiration to get out of your chair and enjoy the outdoors, go visit her at TreesMendUs.com.  You’ll be so glad you did!  Her blog discusses the medical and overall health benefits of being near trees.  I’m going to follow her advice and head outdoors today.  No more excuses!

The other day I was buying stuff in the bulk foods section of our store, when I noticed hazelnuts.

Oregon is the number one producer of hazelnuts in the world, and every square inch of our agricultural region is dotted with thousands of acres of either wine grapes or hazelnuts.  More and more orchards are cropping up every day, it seems.

And yet, I have only purchased them once before.  Possibly price has something to do with it, but now that it’s just the two of us, we can splurge once in awhile.

When I got home, I tasted one and it was sort of soft and bland.  At first I thought it must be stale, but once I roasted them at 350° for 15 minutes, they became crunchy and golden brown.

Today, while deciding what to make for dinner, I had a sudden memory from about 20 years ago.  My long time friends took me to this beautiful restaurant, down in the Bay Area.  I ordered the hazelnut chicken breast and was floored by the flavor.

I looked around the internet and got some suggestions from a number of sources, and came up with this recipe.  I’m hoping it will be half as good as that meal from long ago*.

If you have raw hazelnuts, make sure you put them in a 350° oven for 15 minutes, or until crunchy.

Then pour them into your Cuisinart, (that’s your Amazon link) and process until uniformly small (but don’t grind them into flour!).  Mine is the 14 cup capacity, and I use it nearly daily.  It saves me so much time.  In addition to the chopping blade (which I also use for making pie crust), it comes with a slicing blade and a shredding blade.

Hazelnut Crusted Chicken

Serves 4

2-4 chicken breasts** (I sliced mine in half, horizontally)

Extra virgin olive oil

Butter

1/3 cup flour

Garlic Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 egg whites

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1-2 cups toasted, chopped hazelnuts

1-2 cups toasted panko breadcrumbs

(To toast panko, pour into a rimmed cookie sheets and bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Any leftover will keep in a mason jar in your fridge for weeks.  Unless it has touched raw chicken, of course.  In that case, you’ve gotta throw it out!)

Heat your oven to 350°.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat.

Get out 3 pie plates.

Hazelnut Crusted Chicken with Spinach Pesto Pasta

In the first, combine flour, garlic salt and pepper.

In the second, whisk together egg whites and Dijon mustard.

In the third, combine 1 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts and 1 cup toasted panko.  You may need more, depending on how many chicken breasts you’re making.

Trim chicken and slice horizontally, if you like.  Pat dry.

Press both sides in flour mixture and tap to remove excess.

Dip both sides well in egg white/Dijon mixture

Lay chicken on nut/panko mixture and press down to coat well.

Add enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of your hot pan, then add 1 Tablespoon butter.

Carefully add crusted chicken (try not to knock topping off) to hot oil/butter.  After a couple of minutes, peek underneath and check the color.  You don’t want it too dark!

Carefully flip over and cook another 2 minutes or so.  Remove to a platter and keep warm.  If you didn’t cut your chicken breast in half, it will need about 6 more minutes in your 350° oven.

Hazelnut Crusted Chicken with Spinach Pesto Pasta

I’m serving mine tonight with Whole Grain Angel Hair Pasta, tossed with Spinach Pesto and halved cherry tomatoes.  And, of course, with the obligatory salad!  I went all out and sprang for an English cucumber.  And Joan, because you don’t like Granny Smith’s, I bought a few Braeburns!  Woo Hoo!  The excitement never ends around here!

Hope you like this!

Hazelnut Crusted Chicken with Spinach Pesto Pasta

*This dish was absolutely incredible!  Bill kept saying what a keeper it is, and I completely agree.

**This chicken in the above photo is actually one quarter of a good sized chicken breast!  Because the combination of hazelnuts and panko is so rich, it won’t take much to fill you up.  Even Bill only had 1/4 of a breast, so keep this in mind!

Enjoy – Vicky

 

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