Lynne's Kitchen

You don't have to be a professional chef to cook tasty meals

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes

Now… say that 10x’s fast!!

This was a fabulous dish to say the least. Nothing is better than fresh basil pesto, asparagus, and pasta on a well-weathered Bay Area day! What I love about the basil pesto sauce is the freshness of it. I’ve bought ready-made packets and jars at the store before, and although its good for a quick pinch, when I can help it (and I have time for it), I like to make what I can from scratch. This sauce is great and although most recipes will call for pine nuts, I was inspired to use toasted walnuts instead. And it was complimented nicely by the Tomato Basil Bruschetta on cracked sourdough bread.

My Notes:

  • For the Basil Pesto Sauce, I substituted toasted walnuts for the pine nuts. I also dumped the entire Basil Pesto Sauce into the dish and may use less of it next time just so it doesn’t look so saturated – we’re talking SUPER GREEN. Depending on your personal preference, my advice would be to add half of the Basil Pesto Sauce to start off with and adjust to your liking as need be. But even at the full amount, it tasted fabulous and not overwhelming to the dish at all! (I sure wish I had some to warm up right now…)

Family Verdict:

‘Twas a good selection is what I interpreted from the “babe, this is good!” and the kids who came around when the pasta was finally addressed as “butterflies” with other methods of coaxing. The kids did an overall pass on the asparagus but managed to enjoy the pasta and chicken, although Little K did continue his food testing ritual of putting the asparagus in his mouth, chewing for a little bit, then spitting it all out. Coaxing was not as easy the following day on Little K (oddly enough he’s the kid that is more open to food in general); however, Big K did a wonderful job on cleaning his plate once he got into the groove that “green food is okay to eat”. Perhaps there are dishes kids consider one-hit-wonders?? Something about green food is just not appealing to kids.

I personally liked the added touch of the sundried tomatoes. I was getting a little obsessed in wanting to have one with each bite! Trader Joe’s has a really good one in olive oil, which was the one that I used for this recipe.

Recommended:

Definitely! We will be making again!

Bon appetit,
Lynne

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield = 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Basil Pesto Sauce (recipe to follow)
  • (1) 12 oz. box of Farfalle (bow-tie) noodles
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, washed and cut into 2″ lengths
  • 1/3 cup of sundried tomatoes

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Grill or using a skillet using medium-high heat. Cook until done. Slice into thin bite-size pieces.
  • Steam asparagus over 1″ of water and cook until fork tender. Salt, optional.
  • Toss pasta, chicken, asparagus, sundried tomatoes, and Basil Pesto Sauce together in a bowl. Start out with 1/2 cup of the Basil Pesto Sauce and add sauce to your liking.

Basil Pesto Sauce
Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (toasting is optional)
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
  • Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Set aside.

Source: Adapted from Erin’s Food Files, who adapted from All Recipes

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April 30, 2010 Posted by | Chicken, Pasta | Leave a comment

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti is one of those “comfort food” type dishes for me that when I make this for dinner, I can literally eat this all day long! I personally like my cheese baked a little longer creating that delicious smoked-type cheese flavor. Not to mention the top layer of crispy noodles that result as an innocent by-product. If you are an “edge” eater, I highly recommend letting it hang out a little longer in the oven.

My Notes:

  • Substituted ground beef for Italian Sausage (didn’t have any on hand)
  • Omitted salt from the sauce as well as when cooking the ziti noodles since the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese are plenty flavor for this dish and the canned tomatoes have a decent amount of salt already.

Family Verdict:

The best thing about this dish is that my 4- and 2- year old ate their plates clean! Well, aside from Big K who left the tomatoes to congregate, but when resistance is minimal during any meal, I’ll take it! This is an all-time favorite with Hubbo.

Recommended:

Yes, yes, yes!

Bon appetit,
Lynne

Baked Ziti
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried ziti pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups Quick Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain.
  • Toss the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce, cubed mozzarella, half the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and pepper flakes.
  • Transfer the pasta to an oiled 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
  • Cover the top of the pasta with the sliced mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
  • Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Quick Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet and or spicy Italian sausages (casing removed and crumbled) or ground beef
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree, (one 28-ounce can), roughly chopped
  • Sprig fresh thyme
  • Sprig fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the sausage/ground beef until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes more.
  • Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the herb sprigs.
  • Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste.
  • Use now or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Kid-Approved, Main Meal, Pasta | 1 Comment