Year-round I buy cilantro and parsley from the grocery store almost every week, but the herb that means summer to me, is basil. Since it’s too expensive to buy in those little plastic packages at the grocery store, I grow it easily in my herb garden, and eat it with wild abandon all summer long, freezing it when there is too much for even me to handle! The beauty of basil and many other fresh herbs is that the more you cut them and use them, the more they grow! So, I needed to cut and use some basil. Hey, it’s a hard job, but someones got to do it. I had recipe marked in Giada’s Family Dinners, called Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing, which you can also find online here.
Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing
From Giada’s Family Dinners
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 large clove garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Whisk 1/3 cup of oil, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, fennel seeds, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day, turning the chicken occasionally.
Meanwhile, blend the basil, garlic, lemon zest, remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth. Gradually blend in the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Season the basil sauce, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.
Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to plates. Drizzle the basil sauce over and serve.
This was a wonderful summer recipe! Everyone commented on the basil dressing, which was so easy, and would be good on just about anything! It would be great spooned over fish, or stirred into a pasta. I don’t really know how much the marinade flavored the chicken. For one thing, my fennel seeds are around five years old! About five years ago, I went kind of crazy ordering spices from Penzey’s. It’s an amazing place, you can big bags of spices for the same price as you pay for a tiny jar at the store. The problem is that I use fennel seeds maybe three times a year! So, I have this huge bag of them, and it seems like such a waste to throw it out. But I know I need to. I need to order smaller, more usable sizes. That’s also one of my goals for this summer….throw out old spices! But anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I can’t realistically judge the marinade, but the sauce, definitely a keeper! I served it with a favorite grilled zucchini recipe (also from this book), which I blogged previously about here.
Thinking ahead, I grilled 2 extra chicken breasts so that I could have something for leftovers the next day. There was still quite a bit of sauce left (since I was a bit stingy with it). I made my favorite leftover dish – bread salad. I diced the chicken breast, diced the leftover zucchini, added 2 diced tomatoes, and 3 cups of cubed, stale bread, which I toasted. I tossed that with the basil dressing! Yummy! Really, is there anything that can’t be made into a bread salad!