Many nights I don’t have a plan. When I do my big shop on Mondays at Whole Foods I obviously come with some sort of a list, but I’m always persuaded to buy new products with no idea how I am going to utilize them – and by persuaded I mean they usually have a sale sign that draws my attention. This is how I found these Jalapeño Monterey Jack Chicken Sausages (they were BOGO). I use a lot of sausage in my cooking because I find it adds a great depth of flavor to simple dishes and I particularly love using chicken sausages because they are “healthier” (my favorite ones are from Sonny’s in East Quogue). This Whole Foods brand had a variety of flavors, but I went with the Jalapeño Monterey option for obvious reason – I’m a fan of all things spicy and cheesy and I make food that is pleasing to me 🙂
My original thought was to make a sausage and peppers type thing but my Whole Foods doesn’t sell those mini bell peppers so I figured I would figure something else out. This is why I find cooking so fun. The best plans are often no plans (unless your traveling, in which case, make a plan AND a back-up plan). So last night I looked in my fridge, saw the sausages sitting there and now was the time to make the magic happen. I had a package of 3 organic boneless/skinless chicken breasts, the remaining garlic-marinated Castelvetrano olives from Shabbat dinner and a new jar of pesto sauce.
First, I sliced the sausages on a bias (diagonal) into 1/4 inch rounds. In my sauté pan, I heated up olive oil over high heat and seared the sausage slices until they were golden brown and crispy on each side. I reserved the sausages in the bottom of my serving bowl. Next up, the 3 chicken breasts were given a rough chop and generous sprinkle of Adobo seasoning. In the same pan the sausages were seared, I heated up more olive oil with a heaping tB. of chopped garlic, this time over medium-heat, so the garlic wouldn’t burn. Again, I seared the chicken in the oil for a good 4 minutes before mixing. It’s so important when trying to sear proteins and vegetables to NOT MIX TOO OFTEN. After the chicken had a nice brown on one side, the pan got a quick toss, and they had another 4 minutes to sear on another other side. During this time, I sliced the olives in half and put them over the sausage in the bottom of the bowl. To finish the chicken, I added a heaping tB. of the pesto and sautéed the chicken with the pesto for another minute, mixing well. Once the chicken was fully cooked through, the pesto chicken went on top of the sausage and olives and the entire dish was incorporated.
I served this dinner with a very simple lemon pasta (pasta with 1 tB. butter, the zest and juice of entire lemon, salt, pepper and a drizzle of truffle oil). The spice of the jalapeño sausages and the saltiness of the olives was married with the herbaceous pesto transforming your typical boring lame chicken breasts into something wonderfully flavorful and satisfying. You know what else is satisfying? Using what you have, being creative and surprising yourself!