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Pecan Pesto Roasted Turkey Breasts


  • 1 cup pecans

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for oiling pan

  • 1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 12 fresh sage leaves

  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 fresh bay leaves

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each)


Preheat the oven to 450°F. Oil the bottom of a roasting pan and set aside. Place a small, dry skillet over medium heat, add pecans and cook until toasted, stirring and shaking the pan frequently. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. In a food processor, combine the cooled nuts, onion, lemon zest, sage, parsley, salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons of EVOO. Pulse until you have a coarse paste. Put bay leaves and butter into a small pan over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside. Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from one end, being careful not to pull it completely off, to create a pocket. 

Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stuff half of the herb/pecan paste under the skin of each breast, spreading it evenly under the skin. 

Fold the skin back to cover the pesto. 

Transfer turkey breasts to the roasting pan. Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400°F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional 20-25 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170°F. Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.