We usually don’t sit at the dinner table unless we have guests over. It’s the couch, a napkin and dig in. So typically the meals are such that a knife isn’t necessary, like for this Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta. It’s one of our go-to favorites.
Dave’s not a fan of tomatoes or red marinara sauce (I know, gasp!), but pesto he likey. With some quickly browned chicken I cut into chunks, some sautéd mushrooms and onion, a simple deglaze of the pan with chicken stock, pesto and some cream are added to make a smooth sauce that smothers the pasta. Sound good? It’s sure to please and is quick to make.
The other evening I made fresh pesto since the basil plant I had in the kitchen stayed alive, thanks to Les for watering it! Gratefully he house sat for us last week and kept the boys company.
The aroma from the homemade pesto was so powerful. Fresh is always best to me, but feel free to grab some already made from the market. Sometimes I mix it up with the nuts I add, sometimes pine nuts other times walnut or cashew. The traditional pesto is used in this one with fresh basil, pine nuts, kosher salt, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.
We ate out quite a bit last week in Maui and some meals at home that are familiar and comforting were definitely in order. I had mushrooms on hand and did a quick sauté of them with diced onion to make this an all-in-one meal.
This isn’t a heavy alfredo sauce based dinner. After deglazing the pan with chicken stock, which picks up all the sautéed bits and pieces of the browned chicken that were lightly floured, the sauce thickens and with the pesto and cream you have a killer, flavorful sauce to pour over or toss with cooked pasta and the chicken.
I added some fresh little cherry tomatoes for me and this ended up being another satisfying dinner at home. This is a great meal for four or double for a large group with salad.
Speaking of doubling this for a large group, Dave had some guys coming over for dinner in a few days and asked this one to be the dinner. Hence most of these shots are in a 13×9″ baking dish. I wanted him to be able to re-heat this later when I was out. Otherwise this gets eaten right out of the skillet, fresh and hot!
With the dogs Oliver and Kodi, some DVR’d shows and fresh figs for dessert, it was great to be home again.
The fig tree is off the hook with ripening figs. More on them to come. Enjoy!
Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta
- 2 large chicken breasts chopped
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup pesto
- 1/2 cup half and half cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese optional
- 3 cups cooked penne pasta
- 1 cup small cherry tomatoes
- Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Cut into 1-inch pieces and toss with salt and flour to coat.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat add the oil and sauté the chicken. Turn to brown on all sides. Add more oil if needed. Transfer to a platter and keep warm (See Note 1).
- Add the diced onion and sauté for two minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan by scrapping up bits of browned food on bottom of pan and bring to a boil. Add the pesto (reserving 2 tablespoons) and lower heat to simmer. Stir to incorporate and add the cream (See Note 2). Allow to reduce and thicken for several minutes. Add the chicken and platter juices back to the pan and toss to coat.
- Add the cooked pasta, tomatoes and stir. Serve warm with reserved pesto on top.
2. Adding the half cup of Parmesan cheese is optional, but adds a richness that's so good to the sauce.