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What to make with Pesto Chicken

Hello all,
I'm making dinner for myself and a friend and I'm having trouble coming up with what to make. The person really likes pesto and chicken so I'm going to make homemade pesto and put it on some chicken but I cannot come up with side dishes to make with it. I'd like to make a vegetable side and a starch side.

I was thinking of some kind of a risotto or something but I don't know what type of risotto to make. Or a specific idea then for a vegetable. Does anyone have any ideas? I want to avoid broccoli and cauliflower.

I am a pretty experienced cook (used to work in a restaurant) so level of difficulty isn't an issue.

Thank you!

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  1. I'd been inclined to do the pesto with pasta and serve with a roast chicken or chicken breasts pounded and sauteed with fresh lemon on top. If you want to go risotto, I'd make it with chicken stock and add some lemon zest and a little juice at the end to offset the pesto. I personally would rather have a first course of vegetable/salad rather than a veg with the main which sounds ample and flavorful to me--put roasted red peppers would work.

    1 Reply
    1. re: escondido123

      I think a pangrilled cheese polenta would be a marvelous side, and you could start with a nice minestrone loaded w/ veg. Delicious veg. side, maybe roasted tomatoes? They could be spooned over the polenta. Of course, simmered polenta with a handful of parmesan and some crunchy walnuts would be lovely, and less trouble. Okay: you're avoiding cruciferous veg., so head towards the lowly carrot, maybe simmered with some OJ, or even baked onions; delicious.

    2. lemony stuffed baked potatoes and green beans with almonds.

      The potatoes can be prepared in advance and baked just before dinner. The green beans can be blanched and then finished off in a saute pan with garlic and nuts.

      Maybe also an arugula salad to start. I love arugula and pesto together.

      1. I forgot to mention that the person is lactose intolerant so I want to avoid cheese. I have made risotto without cheese before so that would still be okay but the polenta probably would not work for that reason.

        I really like the idea of the a green beans almondine.

        I have already planned dessert (apple crisp with non-dairy vanilla ice-cream and chocolate covered strawberries).

        In lieu of an appetizer I was thinking of putting out the type of nuts and such that she really likes and then just doing a main course and dessert since normally when we go out neither of us orders an appetizer anyway.

        Any other ideas for a starch?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hofman777

          Can the person have pesto, or is that small enough portion of cheese? I think of capellini and sun dried tomatoes with chicken and pesto. Maybe it's a 90'sgreat thing.

        2. You can use a polenta without the cheese and either make it creamy or grilled and serve the chicken on top of it and the pesto sauce over both.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ROCKLES

            Yum. Hey, an orzo dish would be real nice with this. A noodle casserole with mushroons and onions would be fantastic. Asparagus risotto would be DELICIOUS, too, but maybe too last-minute.

          2. I do a grilled pork chop topped with a generous spoon of pesto upon serving. I usually serve it with roasted potatoes (just olive oil, salt and pepper, sometimes grate some parmesan over the top before serving) and sauteed green beans or steamed broccoli.