Pesto Chicken Wraps (or Pesto-Mozzarella Wraps)

My kids love pesto more than they love me. No joke. I can throw that shit on an old sock, and they’ll happily eat it. You can always buy pesto pre-made, but making it is ridiculously easy, and doubling the amount so you can freeze or use for dinner takes ZERO extra work, and the price can’t be beat.

 

pesto

 

By the way, ever noticed how toddlers who love pesto have absolutely no complaints if you steam half a pound of spinach and blend it right into the pesto? (HINT HINT!) Not that I would ever have engaged in deceiving my kids in that way when they were toddlers … no, never …

 

pesto-chicken-wrap-how-to-wrap

 

 

For lunch menus, I play with the consistency and ingredients of the pesto.  Using a food processor (like I have said before, my Cuisinart is a workhorse), I add more parmesan, tweak my amount of olive oil, and omit the traditional pine nuts. The kids don’t miss the nuts, it’s far less expensive, and there’s no danger of unwittingly cross-contaminating a nut-allergic friend at the lunch table (if the nuts are front and center on a granola bar and everyone can see them, it’s easier to avoid, but I get nervous when there’s no way for kids to tell). The extra parmesan makes the pesto heartier, and holds up well in the thawed wrap.

 

 

wrap

Of course, it takes the same amount of effort to double the batch and use leftovers for an easy pasta dinner when you’re done cooking on Round 1 Night (boil some pasta, throw in some cherry tomatoes and cheese cubes, and call it a day!), so feel free to add pine nuts to the extra bit you reserve for dinner.

 

Pesto Chicken Wraps (or Pesto-Mozzarella Wraps)
Yields 25
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large red bell peppers (or jar of whole roasted bell peppers)
  2. 4 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts, if using (may use frozen, but allow for extra time to thaw/cook
  3. *If not using chicken breasts, use 3lb Mozzarella, cut into 1oz (approx ¼ inch x ¼ inch) sticks. I also like queso panela, a neutral white cheese that goes so well with pasta salad I mentioned previously)
  4. 25 whole wheat burrito-sized tortillas
  5. 8oz fresh basil *
  6. 4-6 cloves garlic*
  7. 8 oz grated parmesan cheese*
  8. Black pepper to taste
  9. ¾ cups olive oil
Instructions
  1. Turn broiler on and start toasting red peppers - place whole peppers on parchment-lined cookie sheet (do NOT substitute wax paper here!) and broil for about 10 minutes, until skin is starting to blister, then flip and do the same for another 10 minutes. Large peppers may need an extra turn in the oven to get all the skin charred and blistered.
  2. Season chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper and cook – you can choose stovetop, grill, microwave, whatever floats your boat. I like to sear mine in a frying pan over med-high heat briefly, to trap as much moisture into the chicken as possible, as it will be frozen once prepared. Once it’s seared, I cover the pan and reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes per side.
  3. Slice peppers into thin strips.
  4. Let chicken cool, then cut into slices.
  5. Make pesto: Put basil, parmesan, garlic, and pepper in bowl of food processor (or strong blender) and pulse until coarsely chopped. Don’t add salt, the parmesan will give you enough salt as it is. Add ¾ cups of olive oil slowly, drizzling in in a stream. (HINT: at this point, if you want to freeze premade pesto, scoop into quart-sized freezer bags and top with another drizzle of olive oil to act as a barrier to air before sealing bag; freeze for up to 3 months)
  6. Warm tortillas, wrapped in a clean dish towel, in microwave – about 10 seconds on high power per tortilla. Make sure to keep them well covered in dish towel so that they remain pliable.
  7. Spread 1-1.5 Tb of pesto over one warmed tortilla, and add about two ounces of chicken breast (one thick slice of chicken, or a loosely-packed 1/3 cup) or two sticks of mozzarella to the center of the wrap. Add a couple of strips of red pepper.
  8. Fold the top and bottom of the wrap down to seal the ends, then proceed to roll the wrap and place seam-side down on a parchment-lined jelly roll pan.
Emi Ponce de Souza http://www.emiponcedesouza.com/

Flash Freeze your wraps. Flash freezing ensures that your food items won’t stick to each other once you’re ready to pack them. Lay the uncovered pan of wraps directly in your freezer for 1-2 hours (I’ve been known to forget about my last pan overnight without it getting freezer burn, so there’s that). Once the wraps are flash frozen, you can proceed to pack them in your heavy duty freezer bags.

To serve, cut in half and place in chilled lunchbox – wrap will be thawed by lunch time. Otherwise, you may heat the wrap (we do 4 minutes for 2.5 wraps in the microwave) and place in food thermos for kids to eat hot at lunch time.

 

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Posted on July 31, 2016 in Lunch Recipe

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Responses (4)

  1. Bethany Dhondt
    August 14, 2016 at 9:17 am ·

    I LOVE your recipes and have enjoyed trying to make them my own however my children are lactose intolerant and I do not have a good substitute for parmesan cheese. Any suggestions that I could use that would hold up to freezing and still taste good? Thank you again!

    • Emi Ponce de Souza
      August 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm ·

      Hi Bethany!

      I’m so glad you’ve been having a good time customizing these for your family! Great question about the parmesan. Vegan recipes often call for nutritional yeast as a substitute – you can get that at your local health food store, or here. Personally, I would use 3 Tb nutritional yeast, 3/4 cups cashews, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 3/4 tsp salt, and grind well in a food processor. You can substitute that for 1 cup parmesan (as long as no nut allergies, obviously!). Let us know how it goes!

  2. Sophy
    August 21, 2016 at 10:21 pm ·

    Hi Emi, I found you through PMG and just bought a TON of your recommendations on amazon. I will be trying the freezable lunch recipes and school starts in ONE week!!!! I just posted on PMG as well. I had a few questions for this one
    Can I halve this recipe? Im not sure my boys will like it and don’t want to go crazy. Next, should I buy grated parmesan cheese or grate my own now that I just bought your recommended cuisinart. Last question, can I slice the bell peppers first and then broil or will that not taste the same?
    Thanks, Sophy

    • Emi Ponce de Souza
      August 21, 2016 at 10:41 pm ·

      Hi Sophy!

      Yay! So excited for you! I promise it’s a total life changer when the system clicks … takes a little elbow grease for a day or two, but you have plenty of time to get ready for next week!

      Okay, to your questions! You can absolutely halve the recipe, yes. You can also include less garlic, if that’s a sticking point for your family. I would, for once, buy grated Parmesan for this recipe, simply because the attachment on the food processor is not that fine, and you really want a skinnier shave on your Parmesan for this. I refuse to grate anything by hand when batch cooking, so I just buy it pre-grated (even the powdery stuff in the green container works just fine for this). I would definitely use the cuisinart for any of the other cheeses, though!
      As far as the bell peppers go, you can slice them first, but that just means (a) you’ll have to peel them one by one instead of just skipping the skin off the entire pepper all at once, and (b) your pepper will be a little dryer than it would have been, since you’re not containing any moisture from the inside of the pepper (as opposed to when it’s whole and you’re only charring the outside skin). That being said, you do whatever is easiest for you! You can even use jarred roasted peppers if you’d rather (though that tends to get pricier when doing in bulk).

      Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions as you go. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

      Emi.

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