This week’s recipe doubles up as a quick midweek supper or a delicious lunch! I’ve used a zesty homemade basil pesto in this pasta dish along with sautéed chicken, cherry tomatoes and not forgetting the all important parmesan. This speedy meal is easy, filling and full of flavour.
Making your own basil pesto requires very little effort and I love keeping a small supply in my freezer to add to all sorts of meals, not just pasta. The pesto recipe I’ve used for this dish is a little different and I loved the result when I added cashews (pine nuts are just too prohibitive these days) and spinach to the mix. Of course, you can use store bought pesto if you’re really short on time.
I’ve tried this dish with a couple of different pastas and found that all versions tasted great! I’ve been buying chickpea pasta lately, and while I quite like it I have to be honest and say that it hasn’t gone down too well with the rest of the family! They love their regular pasta and lentil pastas definitely have a very different texture to what my family are used to enjoying. For now I think I’ll have to reserve my “special pastas” for the occasional lunch. Whatever your pasta preference, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this easy chicken pesto pasta!
- Make the pesto in advance to save time! Keep it in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days or store in the freezer.
QUICK CREAMY CHICKEN PESTO PASTA
For the pesto: (makes 200ml)
- 1 cup roughly chopped spinach leaves
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- 60ml (¼ cup) raw cashews
- 45ml (3 tbsp) grated pecorino romano cheese
- 75ml olive oil
- 30ml (2 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
- 5ml (1 tsp) lemon zest
- salt and pepper
- 1½ cups wholewheat pasta
- 2 free range chicken breast fillets
- 10ml (2 tsp) olive oil
- 120g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 15ml (1 tbsp) cream
- salt and pepper
- grated parmesan, to serve
- fresh basil leaves, to garnish
1.) Make the pesto by placing the spinach, basil, garlic, cashews, pecorino cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest in a food processor. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and process until the ingredients are combined. Refrigerate until needed.
2.) Cook the wholewheat pasta as per the packet instructions until al dente.
3.) While the pasta is cooking cut the chicken into strips. Drizzle the olive oil into a pan over a medium heat and fry the chicken strips until golden. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes have softened slightly.
4.) Add four tablespoons of basil pesto and the cream to the pasta and stir. Add the chicken and tomatoes and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dish onto warmed plates and topped with some grated parmesan, a few basil leaves and an extra dash of black pepper. (And an extra dollop of pesto if you wish!)