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Spinach Basil Pesto Chicken and Penne

For lunch last Sunday I wanted to make something light, somewhat healthy, and use up some things I had lying around the house before they went bad. I had some chicken, I always have pasta, a little basil, spinach, garlic. What should I make I asked myself, what shall it be? Ahh, a pesto with spinach it will be, I wish I would have had a few other thing ingredients but it was wonderfully awesome and I can always try it with the other options another time. I was cleaning all morning and I really did not want to truck on down to the store which involves a detour at the moment. Lazy I know but it was Sunday!

  • 1 chicken breasts (or left over chicken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups or so uncooked Penne pasta (or favorite pasta)

Pesto:

  • 1 cup or so of fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup or so of fresh basil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp. course or kosher salt
  • ¼ – ½ cup good olive oil (as needed to make nice pesto paste)

If using left over chicken, cut up into chunks and set aside. If not you should simply season the chicken with salt and pepper and sauté in frying pan until done, flipping half way through (oven back if you prefer), then let rest for a few minutes and cut into long strips or into bite sized chunks.

cut up chicken

it strips or chuncks

Mean while in a big pot of salted water, get pasta boiling, cook per instructions, when done drain and let dry for a few minutes.

Will be pesto in a few pulses

Will be pesto in a few pulses

As pasta cooks and all of the pesto ingredients except for the olive oil into a blender or food processor and pulse a few times so everything is chopped up well. Scrape down sides, turn on food processor and slowly drizzle in olive oil until paste forms, for thicker pesto use less oil, if you like it looser ad more. You may have to scrape down the sides once or twice. Set aside.

spinach pesto

spinach pesto

Add a glug of olive oil to a large pan over medium to medium low heat, add chicken (if using left over chicky, let warm through for a bit) then add pasta and pesto and toss to coat. Heat everything through, plate and add some fresh parmesan on top.

penne spinach pesto

penne spinach pesto

Cook’s notes: I said there would have been a few things I would have added if they were in stock at home, this is what I would have added. I would add a little lime/lemon zest and juice, 1 tsp. zest, 1 tbls. juice to the pesto. I would also add some sun dried tomatoes that were chopped up a little bit. Also adding a ¼ toasted pine or walnuts would be good and traditional too.

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