Pesto chicken bites with cherry tomato relish

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pesto

pestoRecipe tip: This recipe takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook.

This is a recipe in two parts – one part for cherry tomato relish (a sort of posh and healthy tomato sauce) and the other part for pesto chicken bites (a sort of posh and healthy chicken nugget).

Both are simple and quick to make but you could make one without the other. For the relish we’ve suggested you buy tinned cherry tomatoes – they are more pricey than regular tinned toms but they are much sweeter and better for the purposes of this recipe.

For the chicken bites we’ve suggested using thigh fillets – not only are these half the price of chicken breasts but we think they have more flavour and are less likely to become dry when cooked.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, approx 80g, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano, rosemary or thyme
1 tsp honey or brown sugar
400g tin cherry tomatoes
100ml orange juice

Ingredients for the Pesto Chicken Bites:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, approx 80g, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of chilli powder (optional)
I tsp dried oregano, rosemary or thyme
1 tsp honey or brown sugar
400g tin cherry tomatoes
100ml orange juice

Ingredients for the Pesto Chicken Bites:

400-450g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 heaped tbsp pesto
170g breadcrumbs (approx three slices of bread)
Pinch salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  • Start by making the tomato relish. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the onions and cook for about 7 minutes until soft.
  • When the onion is soft add the garlic, chilli and oregano and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring now and then.
  • Add the honey, tomatoes and juice, then turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
  • Turn down to a simmer and leave to reduce until the sauce has thickened and intensified in flavour. This will take between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • Season the relish and add any herbs you might have lurking in the fridge – basil will work especially well with the pesto chicken bites.
  • Next, make the pesto chicken bite. Preheat the oven to 240ºC (220ºC fan oven), gas 9, an grease a large baking sheet.
  • Cut the chicken thighs into finger length and thumb width pieces and place in a generous mixing bowl.
  • Add the pesto and use your hands to mix until the chicken is evenly covered – if your family are pesto lovers, you might want to add more pesto at this point.
  • Put the breadcrumbs in a big bowl with the seasoning. Take a few strips of pesto chicken at a time and roll in the crumbs until completely coated then place on the baking sheet close together but not touching.
  • Continue coating all the chicken in crumbs then drizzle with the olive oil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  • Serve with the tomato relish, new potatoes and peas.