Tonight we enjoyed our inaugural outdoor meal. It was 85 degrees, sunny and glorious in Chicago today. It is that odd time of year in the windy city when my winter boots are still perched outside our front door while I was in flip-flops grilling on the back porch. Everyone rushed to enjoy the brilliant weather. Tom & Wendee’s, our favorite Italian ice shop, was out of half of their flavors and many Chicagoans were lobster red, shocked into remembering that one can get sunburned in this city. No, we don’t have much of a Spring around these parts.

One of my favorite, easy back porch meals is Grilled Pesto Chicken with fresh salad or pasta or both. Eating this tonight reminded me that I better start planting my basil for my own batches of pesto this summer. I think that this year I will grow basil, thyme, sage and chives. And, oh yes, for the first time… mint! Hello Mr. Mojito! Also, I have decided that this might be the year of the mint julep for me… mostly because I love those silver cups. I am just dying for slow, hot afternoons, clutching a silver mint julep cup moist with condensation. Ahh.. I digress. The warm weather has me in an excited tizzy.

Grilled Pesto Chicken
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Basil Pesto (store bought or make fresh – see recipe below)
Salt and pepper

Rub the chicken with pesto and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you have time, let it marinate in the fridge for 2-12 hours. Grill on a hot grill until cooked through.


Serve chicken sliced over the pasta of your choice tossed with pesto or with a fresh, green salad. For the salad pictured above toss spring greens, feta cheese, red onion and kalamata olives with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Basic Basil Pesto
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups loosley packed fresh basil
2/3 cup good quality olive oil


With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop. Stop motor and add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and basil, then process until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil slowly, blending until incorporated. Store in a tight container in the fridge for up to a week. Or, put pesto in an ice cube tray and freeze. Store pesto cubes in a frozen bag and use on pasta, chicken and salads throughout the year!