Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spinach Basil Pesto & Homemade Chicken Voila (Gluten-Free)

We all have to have one of those recipes that you can throw together quick and easy for hectic weeknights. There are some days that I work until 7:00 pm, and I don't want to come home and have to cook. We either have leftovers or I whip together what I call Homemade Chicken Voila. Do you know the frozen Birds Eye Chicken Voila! I'm talking about? We used to buy them all the time after we were first married and I wasn't as much into cooking as I am now. A couple of years ago I decided to try making my own cheaper and healthier version.

I decided the perfect sauce would be my Spinach Bail Pesto. It's the first recipe I got published on allrecipes.com. Speaking of, I just realized that I got another recipe published there: Maple Pecan Granola. Go check it out! So back to the pesto.....I love the taste of this pesto. I freeze it in an ice cube tray so I have cubes of pesto ready and waiting in the freezer. I usually buy a pound of chicken breasts, dice them, sprinkle with salt and pepper then saute in olive oil. I let the chicken cool, then portion them out into individual baggies and then freeze them. All I have to do to make my Voila then is to grab a bag of cooked chicken from the freezer. Grab some frozen veggies, boil up some pasta and I'm good to go.

My favorite gluten-free pasta is from bionaturae. It's made of rice, potato and soy. It also cooks up perfect, just as good as wheat pasta, and requires no rinsing. I like to use either the fusilli or penne for this recipe. You should be able to find it at natural food stores. If they don't have it, see about special-ordering from them. Other gluten-free pasta options that would work are: Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta, Sam Mills Corn Pasta or Tinkyada Rice Pasta. I do use broccoli in this recipe and it does give me some issues, but not severe. I can eat a few florets once or twice a week. When I dish it up, I tend to give my husband most of the broccoli and then give myself just a few florets. Broccoli has always been one of my favorite veggies, so I haven't been entirely able to give it completely up.

**See my low-FODMAP version of this recipe Here**
Spinach Basil Pesto
makes 12-14 cubes

1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or sunflower nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered (optional)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Blend the spinach, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.
  2. Divide pesto evenly in an ice cube tray. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Once pesto is frozen, remove from tray and store in a heavy-duty freezer storage bag and use as needed.    

Homemade Chicken Voila
Gluten-Free, Not Low-FODMAP
serves 2

1 cup frozen broccoli florets (optional or as tolerated)
1 cup frozen sliced carrots
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. (or 2 frozen cubes) prepared pesto sauce
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
1 cup dry gluten-free pasta such as fusilli or penne
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.               
  2. Meanwhile, place the frozen broccoli, carrots and corn (and pesto and chicken, if frozen) in a covered skillet with the water. Cover and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are thawed. Add the pesto sauce and chicken (if not frozen) and cook until veggies are tender and everything is heated through.               
  3. Once the pasta is done, drain and add to the veggies and chicken mixture and stir to combine.               
  4. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.


  1. Sounds wonderful. You could always use garlic infused olive oil instead of garlic in your pesto to make this more low FODMAP friendly. on the newest list Broccoli is on the moderately tolerated list in some small amount...but like you some can't tolerate it.
    They could substitute green beans?
    just recently found your site, getting some good ideas. I'm doing fairly well on the diet, but trying to lose weight too, and it's hard. Have my go to recipes, but need to add to them. Your site is beautiful. I don't even know how I found it, but glad I did. :-)

    1. opps, saw you posted a low FODMAP version of the pesto...wasn't reading the whole post was I? lol forgive me.