This Chicken with Broccoli Pesto has all the hallmarks of me having made a food-related New Year’s Resolution, doesn’t it? Though in the interests of transparency this was actually first cooked in December, when I needed a break from all of the rich food.

Since then, like most people, I have gained a little bit of Christmas weight. Though unlike many I have no plans to start 2019 by going straight on a diet. I like to ease myself back into eating well, rather than cutting everything out in one go. Experience tells me that “starting” a diet is the most effective way to fail in reaching my goal. When I go from eating what I want to eating what I’m allowed overnight it won’t be long before I start to rebel. Changing my behavour more slowly over a couple of weeks is much more effective. Reducing portion sizes and introducing lower calorie options one day at a time is much less of a shock to the system.

This recipe is a great example of how to start making those changes, in my opinion at least. What you get here is a bowl of food that’s bright and full of flavour, without the feeling that something is missing.

When the ingredients are mixed in the food processor you get the most amazing green sauce that “normal” pesto is often missing. These photos don’t quite do it justice – it really is bright! It’s not quite as unctuous as traditional pesto, which is why it’s mixed here with cooked chicken and rice rather than pasta. That’s not to say it wouldn’t work with pasta – just I’ve not tried it. Yet.

Even though the texture is a little different the flavours are all there. The richness of basil and Parmesan permeate every mouthful. The broccoli bringing the texture and some of its own subtle flavour too. Make this fresh and use it straight away – stirring it through the chicken and rice while they’re hot is essential.

Garnish everything with few more broccoli florets before serving – as I think they look great on the top. Oh, and if you like things a bit spicy add some red chilli flakes too. (and not only because they look so good against the verdant sauce beneath!).

Chicken with Broccoli Pesto

The addition of broccoli brings flavour, texture and a glorious green colour to this healthy chicken dish.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Poultry, Rice
Servings: 2


  • 1 medium head Broccoli
  • Good handful fresh Basil leaves
  • 3 tsbp Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 g Parmesan
  • 20 g Almonds
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Thighs
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes optional
  • 150 g Basmati or Jasmine Rice cooked per packet instructions


  • Blanch the broccoli. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Remove the florets from the head of broccoli and cook in the water for 2-3 minutes. Remove the par-cooked broccoli to a bowl of ice-cold water and cool quickly. 
  • Make the pesto: Put half of the broccoli in a food mixer with 2 tsbp olive oil and pulse until well mixed. Add the parmesan, almonds, garlic and seasoning, before blending to a pesto consistency. Put to one side.
  • Heat a skillet or large frying pan over a medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Lightly season the chicken thighs before adding to the pan – fry on both sides turning regularly until they’re cooked through. Remove from the pan and transfer to a plate.
  • Add the cooked rice to the pan and stir until well coated in chicken juices. Stir through the half of the pesto to coat the rice and then add the remaining broccoli. Cut the chicken into thick slices and add to the pan.
  • Heat through then serve, using the remaining pesto as a dressing over the top. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes (if using).

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