December 17, 2017

At Home with GCH: Chicken en Papillote with Pesto

chicken en papillote

I know chicken breasts are good for me.  I know I should eat lots of lean protein.  But sometimes the idea of choking down a dry, mealy, overcooked hunk of chicken makes me shudder.  Yuck!  The trick to cooking chicken breasts is to keep them moist and flavorful, because once they get dry, they’re only good for throwing on top of a salad and drenching with dressing.  So I needed something to keep the moisture locked in.  If you have all day, use a crock pot.  If you only have an hour, use parchment paper!

Cooking something “en papillote” is French for cooking “in paper.”  You might already have parchment paper if you do a lot of baking, but if not, you can find it near the aluminum foil in the baking aisle.  This recipe is infinitely customizable—just use whatever combination of vegetables you like, plus chicken breasts, and some seasoning on top.  Bake for an hour, open and enjoy!

This recipe is even better slathered with homemade pesto.  Basil is pretty easy to grow in the yard, so if you have a garden, you can make pesto this summer!  The recipe has the proportions that I like.  You may want to use less garlic, or more oil, to make a thinner sauce.  Also, most pesto recipes add a little parmesan cheese – maybe a tablespoon, grated – to the mix; but I left it out since I am still eating on the Paleo diet.  If you have leftovers, pesto goes great over pasta of any kind.  I had a little pesto leftover and I ate it on scrambled eggs – delicious!



Chicken en Papillote with Pesto


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 2 large zucchini, cut the same size as the baby carrots
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons butter

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts (keep in the freezer so they won’t go rancid)
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Cut two pieces of parchment paper, about 12 x 24 inches.  Fold them in half width-wise, then open.  On one half of the paper, make a bed of half the carrots and zucchini slices; repeat on the second paper.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top each bed of vegetables with two chicken breasts, and season with salt and pepper again.  Divide the butter and drop half a teaspoon of butter on each chicken breast.
  2. Fold the paper in half, to cover the chicken.  Now you should have an envelope or packet.  Fold over the long end a few times, then make a triangular fold at each of the corners.  Now fold over the two short ends several times.  (There are many ways you can fold the paper to keep it shut.  I’ve even gotten frustrated before and stapled them shut!  Here are some ideas for folding the paper.)  When you have the two packets closed up, place on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven.  Cook for one hour, rotating the cookie sheet halfway through to make sure the packets cook evenly.

papillote packet


  1. While the chicken is cooking, make the pesto:  In a food processor, blend the basil leaves, garlic, and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Scrape down the sides, add the pine nuts, and blend again.  Scrape down the sides again, cut the lemon in half, and add the juice to the pesto.  If you want the pesto thinner, add more oil.  Taste…if you want a stronger lemon flavor, you can add the zest from the lemon too.  If you are adding parmesan cheese, now is the time!  Blend again.
  2. To serve, open the packets—carefully!  Don’t get burned on the steam!  You can put the packets on a plate, or open them in the kitchen and throw out the paper if you like.  Pass the pesto!

Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana

To view even more of Dana’s unique recipes, you can visit her at Frugal Girlmet!

Like Be the first one who likes this post!
About Dana Kim

Dana Kim – Blog Contributor
Dana currently lives in Hollywood, California, with her husband and two children. She is currently learning to cook traditional Korean food, to teach her daughters about their heritage and culture. She loves trying all different kinds of recipes and is happy to share those recipes here!


  1. Thank you for sharing today, Dana! This looks delicious! I have never tried making, nor have I ever tasted, Pesto. So as soon as I am able to add a few more items to my food list, I am going to try this!! 🙂

    • Christi, you really owe it to yourself to make some pesto. Once you expand your 7 food list, check it out! You won’t believe you went to long without trying pesto! 😉 Spoon it over pasta, eggs, chicken – it’s fantastic! An especial favorite of mine – cold pasta salad with pesto and sun dried tomatoes!

  2. This sounds yummy and will definetly try this. I love Pesto but have never made it homemade. This will be a first for me on making the Pesto. Thanks for sharing this Dana!

    • Lannette, I’m making another batch of pesto tonight! It’s the perfect sauce for so many things, and it’s healthy and tasty. Let me know how you like it if you make it.

  3. Looks amazing Dana!! Will definitely be trying this on next weeks grocery run!! I like the idea of moist chicken and love carrots and pesto, so this should be a big hit!!!

%d bloggers like this: