Friday, May 4, 2012

Pesto Pasta with Chicken

I've had this strange fear of pesto for a while.  Even though "they" say it's actually very easy to make, it always seemed like a daunting restaurant type dish.   But then I realized that if I can make risotto, then pesto pasta should be a piece of cake.  And it is, seriously, so easy.  I almost feel foolish for not having this dish in our weekly rotation until now.

I decided to start with a very traditional pesto, which consists of basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.   Once I get the hang of this, I shall expand to some of the flavored pestos of the world.  I'm really curious about infusing some bell peppers into this business.

I've also discovered that our immersion blender once again rocks our world.  We haven't had a proper blender for a while (it got fried blending baby food... I know, right?), so we figured we'd just go for it and use our $30 immersion blender.  Let me tell you, it works well.  And clean up is much easier when you don't have to deal with separating the blades from the container, etc.   I'm all about minimizing clean up, y'all.

The recipe calls for what seems to be a lot of olive oil, but the end result didn't feel terribly greasy.  In any case, I've done the calorie count, and by the time you factor in pasta and chicken breast, the total meal comes out to be heart healthy enough.  Not the lowest fat dinner out there, but we all need treats once in a while.

This recipe is adapted from Pasta, from Parragon Publishers.

  • 1 lb chicken breast, skinless, boneless
  • Farfalle Pasta (one 14oz bag)
  • 3 1/2 shredded fresh basil
  • 4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta in plenty of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions.  Drain, but do not rinse.
  2. Cook chicken breast on a lightly oiled skillet, until the the middle is no longer pink.  I find it useful to cut the chicken into strips before placing it on skillet.  When it's done, cut cooked chicken into small cubes.
  3. To make pesto, place basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt into a blender/ food processor. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in cheese (this step is not necessary if you use an immersion blender.  yay!).  This is also a good time to season with salt and pepper.
  4. Combine pasta, chicken cubes, and pesto on a warm serving dish (or if you're trying to minimize dish-washing, into the same pot where you cooked the pasta). 
  5. Toss well to mix, and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Toddler Ratings   hearth healthy: yes     spicy: no      easy to chew: yes      ease of preparation: easy      reheating:  tastes even better reheated   food groups: carbs, protein, veggies, healthy oil

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