Seasonal Tastes: June 2018 – Chicken Pesto Zucchini Bake

It’s summer, which means it’s time for some summer squash.  I’m a HUGE fan of squash casserole (it graced our table weekly growing up), but was into this recipe, which used squash in a casserole, rather than as the foundation for the whole thing.

Chicken Pesto Zucchini Bake1
before going in the oven

We talk about one-pot/pan meals all the time and how great they are.  They save time!  There’s less cleanup!  But we usually forget to mention the OG one-pan meal: the casserole.  Typically, my casseroles are side dishes and when I do make a protein-based one, it’s backed with carbs and cream of mushroom soup.  This casserole is a full meal that eliminates a lot of those ingredients so it feels a lot lighter.  (It’s still pesto sauce and cheese so I’m not saying it’s healthy, but it’s healthier than most of my other casseroles.)

Chicken Pesto Zucchini Bake2
just out of the oven

I adapted this recipe, but essentially you do the following:

  1. Layer a baking dish as follows:
    1. Boneless skinless chicken breasts
    2. Chopped squash, zucchini, and onion
    3. Pesto
    4. Mozzarella and Parmesan
  2. Add the ingredients that make this “adapted”.  Meaning, I followed the recipe but added a little panko to the top as well as some lemon zest, salt, lemon pepper, and chili flakes.
  3. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes (I baked covered for 30, uncovered for about 8)
Chicken Pesto Zucchini Bake4
dishing it out

This dish came out perfectly, and I love that it was packed with fresh summer veggies.  Note: the zuchhini releases some water as it cooks.  This is not a big deal since it just stays at the bottom of the pan; in fact, if you were to serve this over rice or mashed potatoes, it would make a nice sauce.  Also, since this recipe eliminates ingredients like cream of mushroom soup and sour cream, there’s no mixing required – it couldn’t be easier.  And did I mention that fresh mozz made for a perfect topping?  Fresh mozz never gets old.

Chicken Pesto Zucchini Bake3
a messy pile of yum