Chicken Tacos with Pepita Pesto

My husband and I recently went to the Texas coast and spent most of the time along the beach.  The weather was still more summer than fall, but the ocean breeze took care of most of that issue.

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We ate fresh seafood and some great Mexican dishes.  After our return, I was still thinking of the Mexican food more than the fish.  I decided to make something a little different than our usual Maldinado style tacos.   These are more like a fajita, but with more heat by using Anaheim peppers from my garden and fresh green tomatoes.  Whatever you want to call them, they are still delicious.

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I served them with lemon cilantro rice, a pepita pesto and feta cheese.  Cojita would have been more appropriate but the feta was already in the frig.  I also cheated (my favorite thing to do when cooking) by using my grilled chicken that I keep on hand in the freezer.  Dinner is always faster if you don’t have to cook the “meat” each time.  By sauteing the vegetables and tossing in the thawed cooked chicken along with the spices, you can let them simmer for 10-15 minutes and everything gets “acquainted”.

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This meal comes together in about 45 minutes, mainly due to the rice needing to cook.  Otherwise it is only about 30 minutes or so.  My family loved it and gave it a big thumbs up!

This makes 8 portions.

You’ll need:

For the rice:

2 cups raw brown rice

3 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 tbs dried lemon powder or 1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tbs coriander or mint chutney (found at Mediterranean or Mexican market)

For the chicken/veg filling:

olive oil, as needed

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

4 large Anaheim peppers, seeded, split lengthwise and thinly sliced (substitute milder peppers if desired)

2 medium size fresh green tomatoes, medium dice

1 can garbonzo beans, drained (optional)

2-3 cups chopped grilled chicken (even deli chicken would work)

1 Tbs ground coriander

1 Tbs ground cumin

1 Tbs fresh lime juice

For the pepita pesto:

1 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

2 Tbs lime juice

1 tsp hot sauce (your favorite)

1 medium clove garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup olive oil (or more if needed)

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For serving:

8 medium size tortillas ( I used whole wheat flour ones), warmed

cojita or feta cheese, crumbled

First, start the rice.  Combine rice, stock, lemon and chutney in a medium pan.  Place over medium high heat until it reaches a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender.  Drain any extra liquid if needed.  Set aside.

While the rice is cooking….

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, peppers and tomatoes in olive oil.  Once the veggies have softened (5-10 minutes), add the cooked chicken, garbanzo beans (if using) and spices.  Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Squeeze lime juice over and stir.  Taste and adjust seasonings to suit you.  Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve.

While the veggies are cooking….

Make the pepita pesto.  Combine all the pesto ingredients in your food processor and  run until fairly smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning to suit.  Set aside until ready to serve.

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Warm the tortillas according to package directions.

To assemble:  On the warmed tortilla, spread the pesto, top with rice, then cheese followed by the chicken mixture.  Fold up the tortilla and eat with gusto!  Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Chicken Tacos with Pepita Pesto

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