Weasel Eats

Chicken Red Pesto Stew

Here in upstate South Carolina, we are on the tail-end of winter. Some days it feels like summer (because … South Carolina), but some days, like today, there’s still a bite to the chill in the air. Just enough to make a warm bowl of stew sound like just the thing for supper.

So before winter flees for good, I’m going to share my latest cold-weather creation with you: chicken red pesto stew!

I love red pesto. I discovered it a few years ago, and I like the flavor better than regular green basil pesto (which may or may not relate to a bad airplane-meal experience once upon a time in which basil pesto pasta was implicated…but I digress).

So recently when I found some red pesto on sale at Aldi, of course I had to get it. The problem is, what with our (mostly) low-carb eating, we don’t keep pasta in the house. And what do you eat red pesto with, if not pasta?

Well, I’ll tell you.

You do this: Cover a whole chicken with water and cook it in the crockpot for at least 24 hours (especially if it’s as tough as our current farm-raised batch tends to be). After you pour the broth into jars (some of which you’ll use in this recipe) and cool the meat (which should now be falling off the bone), shred a couple pounds of it and put it in a pot. Add your red pesto, some broth, some quick-cooking barley, and a few veggies. Smother it in spices and herbs, and voila! A delicious winter (or early spring) meal. The kind that sticks to your ribs and warms you to your toes. What could be easier?

Yummm. I’m glad we have some left over, because I’m making myself hungry. So I’ll leave you with the recipe while I go eat some more of this delicious stew myself. Enjoy!

Chicken Red Pesto Stew

1 1/2 lbs. shredded cooked chicken
2 (6.7 oz.) jars red pesto
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dry quick-cooking pearled barley
2-3 large green onions, diced
3-4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
6-8 cups chicken broth (or use half water)
onion powder, garlic, oregano, tarragon, paprika, marjoram, parsley, celery seed, salt, and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp. of each, but these are highly flexible!)

Combine all in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil; simmer 20-25 minutes. Season to taste and serve. Makes 6-8 servings.

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