Last summer I discovered a new favorite flavor-thai basil. This basil is a little different. It has more of a anise like flavor than the sweet Italian basil we are accustomed to here in the Midwest. If you’ve ever had Thai cuisine, chances are you’ve also had Thai basil. Thai basil is somewhat difficult to find outside of specialty stores here in the Twin Cities, so I decided to choose the easier way to keep it on my table-I grew it myself! Turns out it thrived in a large pot on my sunny deck. As soon as there was enough Thai basil in my pot, Thai Basil Pesto Noodles was born!
This dish is actually very quick to make if you do a little planning ahead. I make the Thai Basil Pesto ahead of time and store it in 4 ounce mason jars. The Thai Basil Pesto freezes beautifully in these jars and makes Thai Basil Pesto Noodles a reality in the depths of the cold Minnesota winter. The pesto itself is a flavorful wonder, and it packs a bit of a punch.
The chicken can also be made ahead. In my last post, I promised I would give you another use for the brown sugar chicken (Remember, you may have opted to double it when you made the Southwest Salad with Cilantro Chipotle Dressing). Thai Basil Pesto Noodles is another delicious use of this chicken. There is nothing better than batch cooking, and these two recipes, although not similar in flavor profile, prove this. I recommend you double the chicken portion of the recipe when making the salad and then use the leftovers to make Thai Basil Pesto Noodles (or vice versa!). The rest of the ingredients are simple vegetables. Voila! Easy weeknight meal! And don’t we all need a break when it comes to getting dinner on the table?
The greatest thing about this recipe is that you can vary the ingredients based on your own preferences. Do you like crunch? Add more carrots and peanuts. Want to make it vegetarian? Omit the chicken and use soy sauce instead of fish sauce in the pesto. Do you really like vegetables? Add some roasted red peppers and roasted broccoli. Do you like spice? Add a sprinkling of crushed red pepper or add more pesto. Hope you enjoy this very versatile recipe, made the way you like it!
Thai Basil Pesto Noodles
- 2 cups thai basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tablespoons peanuts
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 of a 14 oz box of rice noodles
- 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
- 1/4 cup green onions
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
THAI BASIL PESTO:
Place thai basil leaves, garlic, peanuts, sesame oil, sugar, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and crushed red pepper into a food processor.
Pulse until smooth.
Mix brown sugar, cumin, garlic powder, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper in a gallon sized ziplock bag.
Add chicken breasts and coat with rub.
Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add canola oil.
When canola oil is hot, add rub-coated chicken breasts and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
Keep heat on the lower side as the sugar in the rub will burn if too hot. (Don't worry if it blackens, that is OK)
Remove chicken and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Boil a pot of water.
Place noodles into boiling water, remove from heat and allow to soak for 8-10 minutes until tender.
Drain noodles and place into a large bowl.
Stir 1/4 cup of thai basil pesto into warm noodles.
Add carrots and green onions.
Separate noodles into 4 bowls.
Place one quarter of the sliced chicken on top of each bowl of noodles.
Garnish with cilantro, peanuts, and extra pesto if desired.