Asian Pesto Chicken Salad
by ming tsai and arthur boehm 
  for the pesto sauce
2   jalapeno chiles, stemmed and seeded
8   garlic cloves
1 Tbsp  sugar
1   heaping tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 cup  roasted salted macadamia nuts or roasted salted peanuts
  zest of 2 lemons
2 cup  extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup  fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup  fresh mint leaves, packed
1/2 cup  fresh cilantro leaves, packed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  for the salad
2 Tbsp  grapeseed or canola oil, if needed
1-1/2 cup  uncooked orzo
4   boneless chicken breasts with skin
  kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-1/4 cup  asian pesto, plus additional for drizzling
1 pint  cherry tomatoes, halved
  juice of 2 lemons
1/2 lb.  baby spinach, washed and dried
make the pesto sauce 
in a blender or food processor, combine the chiles, garlic, sugar, 
ginger, nuts, zest, and 1 cup of the oil and blend until smooth. add 
the basil, mint, and cilantro and blend while slowly adding the 
remaining oil until a thick puree is formed. season with salt and 
pepper. store in a tightly covered jar and refrigerate. 
assemble the salad 
prepare an outdoor grill, heat to hot, and spray the grid with 
nonstick cooking oil. alternatively, heat a grill pan or heavy saute 
pan over high heat, add the oil, and swirl to coat the pan. 
bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. cook the 
orzo until just tender, about 10 minutes. drain well. 
meanwhile, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. 
grill the chicken, turning once, until the juices run clear when the 
meat is pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 10 minutes. 
alternatively, grill the breasts in a pan over medium-high heat, 
turning once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. cut the chicken 
with its skin into 1/4-inch-wide slices. allow the chicken to come to 
room temperature if you prefer, or proceed with the warm chicken 
in a large bowl, combine the chicken with 1 cup of the pesto, the 
orzo, and the tomatoes. season with salt and pepper. in a medium bowl, 
combine the remaining 1/4 cup of pesto with the lemon juice, then toss 
with the spinach. season with salt and pepper. 
divide the spinach mixture among 4 plates. mound the chicken salad 
on the spinach, drizzle with additional pesto, and serve. 
(ID: 1565) Mirror: Sat, Aug 20, 2005

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