It’s been a month since I started this blog and the experience has been wonderful! One of the many things to love about cooking is that it is therapeutic and soothing. I love how one can get creative with it and the ability to bring beautiful things in a tangible form is priceless. It is like working on a painting and thinking to yourself how to make this better. While painting appeals to sight, food appeals to all five senses, all at the same time. I have learnt that it is not only important to have a tasty dish but also a balance between the flavors, colors, textures and aromas.
So, with all these thoughts in my mind, I went to the grocery store, deciding what I can make but to my surprise I was in and out! I did face a lot of overwhelming choices but when I saw the pasta section I was relieved (more than relieved I was craving for one!) The result was “Basil penne pesto pasta with chicken”. Therefore, when in doubt make pasta!
Generally, pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but one can also make it using other green herbs and nuts. I decided to use walnuts instead of pine nuts as they have a nice nutty flavor to them (Also, I did not find pine nuts in the grocery store! Darn!) So, if you like to see refreshing and soothing green color on your plate, this dish is for you!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
200g of Penne Pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoon butter
1 Cup boneless chicken
½ Cup Fresh Cream
½ teaspoon garlic paste
Salt and pepper for seasoning
½ Cup of processed cheese (grated)
2 cups Fresh Basil leaves
½ cup Walnuts or pine nuts
4 garlic petals
2 tablespoon Olive oil
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese or processed cheese (grated)
Pinch of Salt
Making Pesto Sauce:
Toast the Walnuts in a pan until slightly brown. Keep moving them along the pan so that they don’t burn. Mix the pesto sauce ingredients in a blender and continue to grind until everything comes together in a form of a paste. Taste the mixture as you go and add in salt and pepper as you see fit.
Tip: You can store the pesto in an air tight container in your fridge for later. Also, if you’re not going to use it anytime soon, it would be a good idea to freeze it! You can put it in a soup, sandwich, wrap, salad or even on a pizza!
Get a deep non-stick pan with salted water on to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Make sure you add the pasta only when the salted water comes to a boil. After the pasta is cooked drain the liquid out but set side one cup of that pasta water.
Marinate the chicken with some garlic paste, salt and pepper and set aside. I had Italian herbs lying around so decided to use them in the marinating mix. Heat olive oil in a pan on a medium flame and cook the chicken until it turns light golden brown. It should take about 10-12 minutes.
Let’s bring everything together:
Heat olive oil in the pan over a medium heat and add in butter. Add in the pesto sauce and mix it well. If you want to loosen the pesto sauce a bit, slowly add in some of that reserved pasta water and mix well. To make this pasta creamy, pour half cup fresh cream and give it a good stir. Make sure you don’t boil the mixture as the cream will split and it will be a big mess. Add in the cooked chicken and pasta. Give everything a light mix and your creamy pesto penne chicken pasta is ready to go!
I don’t like my pasta swimming in the sauce, I like it to be coated evenly with the pesto so that as soon as I take a bite I do not have to worry about the dripping sauce and I can just eat it one go. It’s really an individual preference, but if you like your sauce to be a little loose, then add the pasta water accordingly and mix well.
Tip:Weight watchers can just leave out the cheese and cream and you have low calorie tasty pasta!
Garnish it with some grated walnuts, basil and parmesan cheese. If you do not have parmesan cheese just use the processed cheese.
Serve it with some salad, garlic bread and white wine to have a complete Italian meal. Enjoy this green plate of goodness with your friends and family!