My herb garden is in pretty sad shape. The dill and cilantro were spent weeks ago. The oregano and thyme shriveled up and died when it didn't rain for a couple of days in a row last week. The basil and parsley plants are picked to pieces. But I have what I thought was a beautifully robust sage plant. I don't tend to cook with a lot of sage, so I decided to make sage pesto and use it to rub down a whole chicken I was planning to grill. I found this recipe on Epicurious and adapted it to my tastes and purposes.
Since sage can be a strong flavor which varies between varieties, I tasted one of the leaves from that beautifully robust plant. It is a good thing I did, since I now question whether that plant is sage at all. At any rate, the flavor was not one in wanted to use to coat my chicken. Fortunately, a neighboring common garden sage plant had just enough leaves for the recipe.
Garlic, Sage & Walnut Pesto
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup walnuts, roasted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Put the parsley, sage, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the walnuts and process until finely chopped, then add the lemon juice.
- With the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream and process to combine.
Yield: 3/4 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes
I took about half a cup of the pesto and rubbed it under the skin of the chicken, gently separating the skin from the breast and the back and massaging the bird all over so that most of the chicken was coated. I also rubbed pesto over the outside of the chicken and inside the cavity before tossing it on a hot grill. That didn't last long though as we were low on propane. The chicken finished cooking in the 350 degree oven.
Wow! The family all agreed that it was the most tasty and moist chicken I have ever served. This is not the most fabulous picture of a chicken you will ever see. Had I any idea how great this bird would be, I would have properly trussed it and all that jazz. But it had a deliciously crispy skin and the pesto melted over the chicken to bathe it in flavor and olive oil, keeping it perfectly juicy. If your roast chicken turns out drier and not as flavorful as you would like, trust me -- this is the solution. I don't think I'll ever roast chicken without pesto again.