Pesto-Coated Pork Chops

Pork chops on a heart-healthy menu? You bet!

[quicklook-recipe prep_time=”15 min” cook_time=”8 min” serves=”4″ details=”” ]

Pork chops on a heart-healthy menu? You bet! Pork is about 50 percent leaner than just a few years ago, which means it’s lower in saturated fat as well. To keep these chops svelte but succulent, top them with a homemade pesto with a heady mix of basil and garlic. It uses just a smidgen of oil but seals in all the pork’s juices at the same time.

[ingredients-list title=”Ingredients” serving_size=””]

  • 6 ounces eggless noodles
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 center-cut pork loin chops (1/2 inch thick, about 4 ounces each)


[step-list-wrapper title=”How to make it” time=”23 minutes”]
[step-item number=”1″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and keep hot. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”2″ image_url=”” title=”” ] Put basil, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add bread crumbs and process 30 seconds until incorporated. With motor running, slowly add oil through feed tube until pureed. Set aside. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”3″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Coat large heavy ovenproof skillet and broiler rack with nonstick cooking spray. Set skillet over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Sprinkle both sides of chops with remaining salt and pepper. Sauté chops until browned, about 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat. Spread chops on both sides with pesto and transfer to broiler pan. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”4″ image_url=”” title=”” ]Broil chops until pesto is slightly darker and juices run clear, about 2 minutes on each side. Divide noodles evenly among 4 plates and top with a pork chop.[/step-item] [/step-list-wrapper]

[factoid]Typically, pesto sauce is whirled up from basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese — which adds up to a high percentage of fat. To slash the fat but save the flavor, substitute bread crumbs for the nuts and cheese. Blend everything with just enough olive oil to hold it together.[/factoid]

[cooking_tip]Near the end of the suggested cooking time, make a slit with a small knife in the center of the chop. It’s ready to eat when the juices run clear, the meat shows just a hint of pink (about 160°F), and the chop is still juicy and tender. [/cooking_tip]

[nutrition-info calories=”468″ calories_fat=”25%” fat=”13g” sat_fat=”” choles=”78mg” sodium=”388mg” carbs=”46g” sugars=”” protein=”39g” fiber=”2g”]
Some cuts of pork are much kinder to the heart than others. Loin chops rank among the lowest in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Pork is a top source of thiamine, the B vitamin that helps metabolize carbohydrates and regulate the nervous system. It also supplies high-quality body-building protein-as well as iron, which is essential in carrying oxygen through the body.


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Originally Published in Reader's Digest