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Pesto Chicken Saltimbocca

Pesto Chicken Saltimbocca

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Serves 8.
By Dennis W. Viau; an original recipe.

This is a fancy way to prepare chicken, but fancy doesn’t mean a lot of difficult work. The procedure is relatively easy. The result is a delicious meal of chicken. Saltimbocca (literally “jump mouth” in Italian) typically refers to veal and prosciutto. I use it more broadly for any meat wrapped in prosciutto.


For the pesto:
4 ounces (113g) pine nuts (almonds or roasted pecans can be substituted)
2 to 2½ ounces (57g to 71g) fresh basil leaves; stems removed
2 to 3 large cloves of garlic
½ cup (118ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (113g) grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt for seasoning, if desired
For the chicken:
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or half breasts)
8 slices of prosciutto


To prepare the pesto:

This will probably make more than you need. Use the extra with additional olive oil for pasta.

Place the basil leaves, pine nuts (or other) and garlic in a sturdy ziplock bag. Press to remove most of the air and seal. Using a smooth mallet, such as a rubber or wooden mallet (a meat tenderizing hammer is okay if it is smooth), hammer the ingredients in the bag until the basil is well crushed. Work carefully so as not to damage the bag.

Place the crushed ingredients in a food processor with the oil and cheese. Blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt, if desired.

To prepare the chicken:

Lay a chicken piece flat on a surface and spread with a little pesto. Roll into a cylinder. Arrange on one end of a slice of prosciutto and roll up to wrap the chicken with the prosciutto. Tie with a piece of kitchen twine.

Heat a little oil in a skillet and arrange the chicken pieces in the plan. Sauté over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked all the way through (170°F / 77°C internal temperature).

Plate with your favorite vegetables or some cooked pasta dressed with the additional pesto and olive oil.

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