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Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Breast with Spanish Rice


One of the first few things that we cooked in our apartment post the move, is basil pesto chicken with spanish rice. A staple at our house, this is one complete meal that can be cooked in about 30 – 40 mins. Its rich with veggies, protein and is gluten-free.

It comes together with the starter ingredients listed in my previous post on setting up a new kitchen. Leftovers make a flavorful lunch the next day.Serve with a green salad to add more veggies or with some garlic bread and wine to make it more festive.


1. Cooking time will vary based on rice used. Jasmine rice will cook faster than brown rice or basmati rice. Follow the timing instructions from the rice packet.

2. Rice to liquid ratio will also vary by the kind of rice used. Basmati rice uses 1: 2 while jasmine needs 1: 1 1/4. Follow this proportion from the rice cooking instructions. For drier rice, use 1/4 cup less liquid than mentioned on the directions.


Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Recipe 

  • 2 Chicken breasts thawed and cut into 1 – 2 inch cubes

For Marinade

  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley (dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (dried)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

For Baking 

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon pesto sauce

1. Marinade the chicken breasts with all the ingredients listed above and set aside for at least 15 mins. You can use the time to make and prep the Spanish Rice ( recipe below).

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F ( 180 C).

3. Grease an oven safe dish with olive oil. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto over it. Layer the chicken over the pesto taking care not to overlap them. Spread the remaining pesto over the chicken.

Wrap foil over the baking dish.

4. Bake for 10 – 11 mins. Test with a fork to ensure juicy but cooked chicken.

Serve warm.

Spanish Rice Recipe

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced garlic
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2-3 brocollini florets finely chopped ( including their stems)
  • 1 roma tomato finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a pot and add garlic. Once the garlic sizzles ( but is not brown yet), add onion. Cook till the onion is translucent for about 2 mins.

2. Add pepper and brocollini and sauté them for  a minute. Then add the roma tomato. Cook for another 2- 3 minutes till the tomatoes cook and wilt.

3. Add rice and sauté for another minute allowing rice to cook in the juices from the veggies.

4. Now add the chicken stock. or water. Add paprika and salt to taste. Stir well. Cook on medium flame for about 10 minutes till rice is cooked.

Serve warm.



Pepper Rice With Hot Tomato Carrot Soup

Pepper rice

Its raining, in fact pouring all day here in Hyderabad. So much so that when I went to pick up Varun I was soaked to the skin. I somehow managed to keep him dry.

We came home, a bit cold and wet. And I wanted something light and piping hot for dinner.

Soup came to my mind. Or rather rasam did. I didn’t have any curry leaves on hand so wondered how rasam would taste without it. Without another moment’s hesitation I decided to make simple tomato carrot soup. Now that  alone wouldn’t be sufficient for dinner. I always wonder when people say they had soup for dinner, how much of that tureen of soup they had? I decided to make some rice so Varun could eat plain rice if everything else failed.

When I opened the fridge to take out carrots and tomatoes, I saw the red and yellow bell peppers smiling at me. They wanted to join the party and thus the idea of a simple bell pepper rice along with the soup was born.

Rice was being cooked. Tomato and carrot were merrily boiling with a clove of garlic and a couple of peppercorns. I diced up green onions and bell pepper and then went to solve a couple of puzzles with Varun.

Once the rice cooled, I quickly stir fried the pepper with simple spices ( turmeric, bay leaf and cinnamon), puréed the soup’s vegetables and then added cooked rice to the pepper stir fry.

Within minutes we had a hearty and comforting dinner ready to eat.

Varun was hungry by now and we sat down with our respective meals.

Making the dinner was super easy, if only other things in life were as quick and easy!

Pepper Rice and Tomato-Carrot Soup  Recipe

For Pepper Rice

  • 1 cup long grained rice
  • 2 cups water to cook rice
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced ( just the white and pale green parts)
  • 3/4 cup yellow bell peppers cubed
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 medium-sized dried red chillies
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon urad dal soaked in water for 10 minutes or so
  • 1 tablespoon channa dal soaked in water for 10 minutes or so
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Pinch of red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup green onions ( green parts) diced (for garnish)

For Tomato Carrot Soup 

  • 2 roma or 1 beefsteak tomato
  • 1 carrot – peeled and chopped into 1 ” peices
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 pepper corns
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

To Make the Pepper Rice

1. Set the soup ingredients (other than salt and pepper) to boil while  the rice cooks. Once rice is done, fluff it and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok. Once it is hot, add mustard and cumin seeds.

After they sizzle, add bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Keep stirring for 20 – 30 secs. Now add the dried chillies. Crush them if you prefer a spicier rice. Keep stirring while the spices cook without burning them.

3.  Now add urad and channa dal after draining the water. Let this cook for about 1/2 a minute. Keep stirring to prevent them from sticking to the pan.

4. Add the green onions, flash cook for 30 seconds. Add the bell peppers.

Cook for another couple of minutes.

5. Once peppers are partially cooked, add turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning’s.

6. Add the cooked rice, stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning’s. Cover with a lid and let cook for a minute or so on low flame.

7. To make the soup, blend the cooked soup ingredients together till there are no lumps. You can strain the soup to remove any lumps or skin.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve soup with rice while its still piping hot.

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