Cliantro Coconut Pesto Baked Chicken Thighs

Cilantro Coriander Pesto

Dairy free pesto with punchy flavor to brighten any meal

The New York spring has been a bit of a tease. A few days of warmth and sunshine literally lift the spirits of the city, then follows wind and intermittent drizzle. I need cheerful food to eat with color and vibrance! This pesto certainly delivers and I can’t wait to try it with fish.

I definitely recommend thighs over breast meat when cooking chicken this way as this is the cut with flavor as well as staying tender and juicy. This pesto would work in harmony with fish, beef or lamb or firm tofu and would make a delicious stir fry sauce.

I served the chicken on a bed of mixed greens with avocado, sliced mango and a little finely sliced red onion.

Cilantro Pesto Ingredients

  • 2-3 large handfuls fresh washed cilantro leaves
  • 2.5 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 6 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp raw sugar

Blend all the ingredients into a paste then taste and add more chili, lime, coconut or cilantro to taste. Pour into a container and store in the fridge or set aside to use immediately.

To prepare the chicken

Preheat the oven to 380F. Place the thighs in an oven proof dish. Spoon over some of the sauce, then using your hands spread around so that the meat is lightly covered on all sides. (It does not need to be swimming in sauce). Cover in foil and bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, slice then serve on top of salad, steamed greens (would be awesome with broccoli) or rice, making sure to spoon some of the sauce from the pan over the top of the chicken. Drizzle a little extra of the cilantro pesto, add an extra squeeze of lime and enjoy!

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Fennel and Lemon Braised Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash Puree

braised lamb shanks with butternut squash puree

A meal that will comfort you on the coldest of winter nights 

Lamb shanks are rich, flavouful cuts of meat that are high in protein (over 20g per serving) and rich in vitamin B12, zinc and phosphorous. Lamb also contains all the essential amino acids which are required in our everyday diet to prevent muscle breakdown. Lamb shanks contain fat. Yes, fat. Contrary to what a lot of information out there leads you to believe, the right type and amount of  fat is good. Some fat in the diet is necessary. Saturated fat is required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone, saturated fat lowers lipoprotein levels (high lipoprotein levels are associated with cardiovascular disease), saturated fat also allows important vitamins and minerals to be absorbed by the body. Check out The Weston A. Price Foundation to read more about the benefits of saturated fat in the diet.

Shank Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • Approx. 1 tbsp flour for dusting (I used Bob’s Red Mill all purpose GF Flour)
  • Salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, left whole partially smashed
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • Approx 1/2 gallon good quality vegetable stock
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Juice and rind of 1 lemon, peeled into large chunks
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Butternut Puree Ingredients

  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, cubed and roasted on baking paper until soft
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable stock
  • Cracked pepper

Garnish (optional)

  • Toasted pine nus 
  • Crumbled Bulgarian Feta cheese

Method

Preheat the oven to 300F. Lightly dust the lamb in flour, salt and cracked pepper. In a large dutch oven over medium heat add a little olive oil and brown the shanks on all sides. Remove and set aside. Add the onion, garlic and fennel cook until lightly browning and just beginning to soften, stirring continuously. Place the lamb back in the pot with the onions and fennel. Add in the juniper berries, bay leaves, lemon juice and peel and pour in enough vegetable stock to submerge about 3/4 of the meat. Place the lid on and transfer to oven to cook for approximately 3 hours. Ensure to check the meat about every 40 minutes to ensure there is enough liquid; if it has reduced too much pour in some extra stock. You may want to trun the shanks once during the cooking cycle. (I don’t always do this). The shanks are done when the meat is so tender it’s just about falling off the bones..

To prepare the puree, add the cooked butternut squash to a blender with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and vegetable stock. Pulse in the blender and add a little extra stock as required to get a rich, smooth pureed consistency.

Scoop some of the puree onto a shallow bowl, top with a shank and spoonful of the juices from the pot. Garnish with a spinkling of toasted pine nuts and feta if desired. So delicious!