DSC04129You guys know I have three kids, and I have alluded to the fact that my two “bigs” are wildly different eaters.  My daughter, M, who is almost 5, despises anything creamy – hummus, guacamole, yogurt, nut butters.  As in, when my son eats yogurt she gets up from the table so she doesn’t have to look at it, despises.  But she’s usually pretty eager to eat her meat, she loves a great many veggies, and as long and we supply her with plenty of ketchup, she eats a well-balanced meal.

My son, W, who is 6, is normally pickier about his proteins than M is.  He doesn’t like meat you have to work very hard to eat, so fatty cuts are out.  He doesn’t like skin on his chicken.  He won’t touch fish generally.  And he usually prefers eggs and nuts to meat when given an option.  He devours fruit, eats his veggies well, and will enjoy the creamy dishes his sister avoids.

(Baby A eats pretty much anything I give her.  Unless she doesn’t want to eat it and then she throws it on the floor.)

All of this is to say that when I am making meals for the entire family, I can rest assured someone is going to declare that it is awful.  I explain that I can’t always make everyone’s favorite thing, and sometimes we have to eat things we don’t just love in order to nourish our bodies.  These are good DSC04126lessons to learn, but it’s still sometimes a drag to work in the kitchen only to have your product be deemed “DISGUSTING” before it’s even sampled.

My “Pesto Chicken Zusketti” is a classic example of the differences in my kids.  W gobbled it up, and even polished off seconds before I had a chance to sit down to eat.  M had to be cajoled into tasting it and even then she only nibbled at the meat.

A few words about the recipe – it was made with the intent of satisfying children, so it’s a bit mellower and milder than it would have been if I were making it for grownups.  Case-in-point: I roast my garlic for the pesto sauce to take the bite out.  Also, you should have leftover sauce which I urge you to save.  If you have any leftover zusketti, you will want the extra sauce to moisten things up when you reheat or eat it cold.  (I ate it cold.  Delish.)

Pesto Chicken Zusketti
Recipe type: main dish
Serves: 4
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 TBSP fat (I used bacon grease)
  • ½ C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 large basil leaves
  • 1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place chicken in baking dish and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Put garlic cloves in smaller dish and add chicken and garlic to the oven.
  4. When garlic is soft, remove from oven. (Approx. 15-20 minutes.)
  5. Cook chicken to internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. While chicken cooks, make "noodles" with your washed zucchini. (I use a mandoline, but there are other methods. Just google "zucchini noodles" to find some.)
  7. Warm a skillet over medium heat and add your fat. When fat has melted, add noodles.
  8. Cook noodles, moving them around frequently, until they are bright green. Salt to taste.
  9. Remove noodles from skillet.
  10. Once your thighs have cooled, you can chop them or use a food processor to slice them.
  11. In a food processor or high-speed blender, add ½ C extra-virgin olive oil and 12 basil leaves. Puree.
  12. Add lemon juice, salt and garlic (once it has cooled, you can just squeeze the garlic out of the skin.) Puree until smooth.
  13. Return zucchini noodles to pan over medium heat. Add chicken and heat to warm. Add sauce. Stir to combine well.
  14. Serve.


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5 Responses to “Pesto Chicken Zusketti”

  1. […] Remember how I told you it was seldom that my two big kids agreed on a dish? […]

  2. on 01 Jul 2013 at 11:50 pmKatherine

    I made Pesto Chicken Zusketti last night for dinner and it was delicious! We had enough for dinner (2 adults, 1 child) and leftovers for lunch. The recipe was easy to follow. Thank you!

  3. on 02 Jul 2013 at 7:45 amKristine Rudolph

    Oh, I am so glad! I liked the leftovers better than the original dish. 😉

  4. […] Pesto Chicken Zusketti @ Kristine Rudolph […]

  5. on 06 Dec 2018 at 1:34 pm22 Popular AIP Pasta Recipes

    […] Pesto Chicken Zusketti […]

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