Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chicken Pesto Pasta

KK and I went skiing with a group of friends at Gore Mountain over the long weekend.  We ducked out of work a tad early on Friday to beat traffic, and had a "romantic" Valentine's Day dinner along the way at Kingston Yards Grill (don't worry, we actually celebrated on Thursday night at our favorite sushi spot - Teak!).  My friend Emily handled most of the cooking, so I strangely did not spend much time in the kitchen over the weekend.  She made eggs, bacon and home-style potatoes for breakfast every day; grilled steaks (chicken for me!) one night, and her family's "Very Good Chicken" the other evening - delicious! We skied on Saturday and Sunday, and spent the evenings sipping wine by the cabin's fireplace.  KK and I had not skied in 3 years, but conditions were great and neither one of us fell! Another highlight of the trip was Emily's Frenchie, Ruby June.  Ruby was definitely in puppy heaven with all the attention she received over the weekend! We decided to make this trip an annual tradition, so I'm already looking forward to a repeat weekend of fun in 2015!

There’s something about pesto that makes a meal feel fancy! Perhaps it's because pesto seems like a step above jarred marinara sauce? Or because it’s easy to whip up homemade pesto (assuming you have a large quantity of fresh basil on hand)? Whatever it is – both KK and I are huge pesto fans.  As with most of my meals, the protein and sauce come together as the pasta cooks.  I like to keep busy while the pasta water boils :) If you have it on hand, this recipe would be perfect with leftover cooked chicken.  If you go that route, throw your refrigerated pre-cooked chicken into the sauce mixture a few minutes before the pasta finishes, allowing enough time for the chicken to warm up completely.  Garnish each serving with more fresh basil, pine nuts, or crushed red pepper.

Chicken Pesto Pasta
Adapted from Make and Takes
Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4

8 oz. pasta, such as bowtie or rotini
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1-in cubes
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup pesto
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and set aside cooked pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook chicken until no longer pink inside.  Plate and set aside.

3.  Using the same skillet, bring evaporated milk to a boil on high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to medium, and let mixture boil and thicken for 4-5 minutes.  Stir in pesto and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.  Toss in cooked chicken and pasta; stir to combine.  If pasta mixture looks sticky, add some of the reserved pasta water until the sauce reaches a desired consistency.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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