Try this easy prep-ahead Italian Pesto Chicken Breast for your next easy meal! You can make the chicken breast and pesto ahead of time, so when you’re ready to bake all you have to do is throw it in the oven. I paired mine with some baked potato fries, but a salad would also work well (to compensate for the cheese). This serves 2, but can be doubled or tripled as needed.
So, I’m only able to work at Alderspring for the summer and am stuck in school for the other nine months of the year. Don’t ask me why I left the beautiful, pristine mountains of Alderspring Ranch to go to college in the city. I couldn’t give you a clear answer. Something about “adulting” and “responsibility,” concluding with “it’s a stupid idea.” Don’t go to college, kids.
Why should you care about my college woes? You shouldn’t. But you should care about the results. You see, while I’m working my butt off trying to get A’s (anything else is unthinkable), I don’t have a lot of time to cook food. Hence, lots of cheap, easy, make-ahead, or reheatable meals will be hitting this website in the months to come.
As a college student and millennial, I’d like to imagine that my problems of having no time or money are unique to me and my special snowflake self. Sadly, being busy and poor is an epidemic. Therefore, I can only hope that the many easy (but still healthy!) meals I’ll be posting in the future would be useful for 90% of the population. So give this freeze-ahead marinated pesto chicken breast a try. Or, if this recipe is useless to you and you’d like to call me a narcissistic millennial, blow off some steam in the comments below!
Easy Oven-Baked Italian Pesto Chicken Breast
- 1 large chicken breast see notes
- 1 tablespoon your favorite pesto homemade works!
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- pinch pepper
- Juice from 1/2 a lime.
- 1 medium-sized tomato
- a few slices mozzarella cheese
- 1-3 days before you want to cook your meal: put the chicken breast, pesto, oregano, salt, lime juice, and pepper in a ziploc bag. Use the bag to massage the seasonings into the chicken. Release excess air from the bag, then seal tightly. If you won't be cooking the chicken within the next day, place in the freezer. If you want to cook the chicken within the next 4-12 hours, place in the refrigerator.
- When you plan to make the chicken, simply remove from the freezer or fridge and bring to room temperature (the frozen chicken will take a few hours to thaw, so plan ahead)!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Coat a cast iron pan with a little olive oil.
- Place the chicken breast on the pan.
- Slice up the tomato into 1/8 inch slices.
- Arrange a few slices on the chicken breast and place the rest next to it in the pan.
- Cook for about 15 minutes (may vary depending on size), then arrange the cheese on top of the tomatoes. Cook another 5 minutes or so, then remove from the oven. Crank the oven up to the Broil-HI setting. As the oven is heating, insert a thermometer in the chicken. The temperature should read about 163 degrees F (your target is 165, but the few minutes on broil will bring it up the last two degrees)! If it doesn't read 163, turn the oven back to 400 and cook a few more minutes.
- Even if the broiler isn't all the way hot, return the chicken to the oven (you don't want to lose internal heat). Cook on broil for another 3-4 minutes (depends how hot your broiler is). Just keep a sharp eye on it, because it can go from perfectly caramelized to burnt to a crisp very quickly!
- Remove from the oven, rest 5 minutes, slice, and serve. I served mine with some easy oven baked potato fries, but a salad also works!
- To increase the number of servings, just double the recipe or triple as necessary. It's okay if your measurements aren't perfectly exact! Also, 1 chicken breast might not serve two if it's a small one, so if your chicken breasts are small, use 2 for this recipe. Cooking time will be shorter for smaller chicken breasts!
- One of the keys to freezing marinated chicken in advance is to make a whole bunch ahead of time! It gets freezer-burnt if left in there for longer than a week or so, but at the beginning of the week I usually make several different types of marinated chicken at the same time, assembly-line style, then freeze five or so bags of single serving marinated chicken breasts (last week's were Asian, Mexican, Italian, and Indian). In the morning, I take out my preferred flavor for that day, and by the afternoon it's thawed and ready to cook for a quick, delicious meal!