Grilled Chicken with Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto

It's been a busier-than-normal week for work so I've been flying by the seat of my pants in terms of dinners. And the eldest kid is feigning busy-ness, even when he's not scheduled at work, just so I don't dare ask him to step up to the stove and put together a meal for the rest of us. His last day off was spent, busily but unproductively, trying to log on to the university website to move any early classes to something past 10 a.m., since apparently it would be a physical impossibility to make it there otherwise, mom, even while living not 10 minutes away on campus, and why set yourself up for failure so early in the year? After more than 14 hours (no exaggeration) of almost-consecutive mouse-clicking (even hiring his brother as his back-up on a second computer), he finally managed to get in and move things around. What a relief. Life can go on. Maybe success is within reach. No excuses now, at least.

All this leads us to me back to the dinner dilemma that I'm obviously facing alone, and, while nothing has been wildly inspirational this week, we haven't eaten out either so that's been a minor victory. This pesto chicken ended up being a bit of a success/failure too. The pesto itself was fresh and tasty and the leftovers will no doubt be used in many forms over the next few days, but I admit that I didn't read the recipe properly in advance, and made the assumption that the chicken should be slathered with the pesto before grilling, instead of grilling it first and then doing the pesto-smearing. As a result, I ended up with pretty charred chicken that wasn't worthy of any photograph but, and this is the success part, it was still delicious nonetheless. I love, love, love it when you're about to throw it in the can and decide it's at least worth a bite and it ends up redeeming itself. Did a final smear of the green stuff on top of the black and no one was any the wiser.

serves 4

4 boneless chicken breasts

2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 to 2 tsp grated lemon peel

1/3 cup plus 2 tsp olive oil

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

Heat the grill to medium heat. Lightly oil the grill pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and the grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Store half of the pesto for future use.

Transfer the rest of the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the pesto over the chicken and serve.
Rest of the week

Aug 10 Made-to-order omelettes with tossed salad

Aug 11 Pesto chicken with couscous and roasted veggies