Spaghetti with Lemon Verbena-Grilled Chicken

Day PartDinner
Menu PartEntree

Chef Ed Glebus
University of California at San Diego
San Diego, Calif.

Forget the meatballs and Italian seasoning. At University of California at San Diego, chef Ed Glebus tops spaghetti with grilled chicken flavored with lemon verbena to impart fragrance, plus lemons for acidity. An almond pesto sauce made with basil and arugula, as well as a topping of juicy heirloom tomatoes, complement the flavors and colors in the dish; goat cheese adds a creamy counterpoint. Italian night just got elevated.


1 qt. white wine
1 cup chopped fresh lemon verbena
1/2 cup plus 4 tsp. agave nectar, divided
1/2 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup salt
20 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 lb. spaghetti
2 qt. canola oil
4 lemons, zested and juiced
4 tsp. agave nectar
4 cup fresh basil leaves
20 cups arugula
4 cups sliced almonds, toasted
4 pt. halved heirloom baby tomatoes
4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Fresh lemon verbena, for garnish



1. For chicken marinade: Combine wine, verbena, 1/2 cup agave nectar, 1/2 cup pepper and 1/4 cup salt. Add chicken; cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

2. Cook spaghetti for half the time indicated on package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool. Store in plastic zip-top bags or sealed plastic container. Refrigerate and use within several hours.

3. For pesto: In blender container, combine canola oil, lemon zest and juice and 4 teaspoons agave nectar; blend to mix. Add basil, arugula and almonds; blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Toss pesto with cooled spaghetti and set aside.

4. To assemble, portion about 1 1/3 cups spaghetti on plates. Remove chicken from marinade and grill. Slice it against grain and layer it over spaghetti. Add 1/3 cup tomatoes and about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese. Garnish with additional verbena.

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