Cooking Without a Recipe: Tomato Basil Pesto Chicken

So I am back with another randomly made up dish, this time using chicken and other ingredients from the fridge and pantry. I don’t think I have seen or tasted a dish like this before. I just tried to experiment and see if I could make something from scratch. Here are the ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cream (I used all purpose cream, but you can also use heavy cream if that’s what’s available)
  • Milk (we have 2% milk in the fridge)
  • Tomato paste
  • Basil pesto
  • Cornstarch


  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Rinse chicken thoroughly
  • Rub chicken with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Line baking tray with aluminum foil (to catch excess fat and make it easier to clean afterwards)
  • Bake in the oven until cooked and golden brown
Let chicken rest while sauce is being cooked
  • In a small saucepan, mix equal parts cream and milk, then bring to a simmer
  • Mix consistently so bottom doesn’t burn
  • Add basil pesto and tomato paste (proportions would depend on your preference)
  • In a separate small bowl, mix equal parts water and cornstarch to make a slurry
  • Slowly incorporate slurry in the sauce mixture, continuously mixing until sauce thickens
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Drizzle on top of baked chicken
  • Garnish with dried herbs
  • Extra sauce can be used as gravy
Waiting for the tomato basil sauce to thicken

This dish is best served with pasta tossed in grated parmesan cheese and truffle oil (or rice if you’re Asian). The tomato paste is a good tangy balance to the basil pesto, and the cream adds the luxurious texture. Also, baking the chicken is better than frying it, as you lose the extra fat in the process. It’s still moist, but not as fatty.

As always, let me know if you end up trying it. It was a big hit at home, so I hope you enjoy it too. Happy eating!

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