Sunday, December 1, 2013

Garlic Pesto Chicken with Tomato Cream Penne


Even though I generally save more time-consuming meals for weekends, it's nice to have quick and efficient meals on busy weekends. Or even on lazy weekends such as this past one. Darin and I lounged all day (in our PJs, no less) and it was pure bliss. We got caught up on emails, surfed the web, and watched some TV (we're currently re-watching all the seasons of Friends for the 3rd time) and some movies (he voluntarily put on Step Up and enjoyed it). It was laziness at its best, and although we didn't leave the house, we still had a great time. We ended our night with this creamy pesto dish (loved the addition of pesto in here!), and a serving of apple dumplings paired with vanilla ice cream.

Note- the original recipe calls for half & half; when I tried making this the first time, it was creamy but lacked a depth of flavor. I subbed in heavy cream, and that made this dish truly stand out.

Ingredients

  • 2# boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 bottle of Lawry's Herb & Garlic marinade or Italian salad dressing
  • 2 spoonfuls of pesto (homemade or we used this by Classico)
  • 8-oz penne pasta (we use 100% whole wheat)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 spoonfuls of pesto
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 8-oz tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (for topping)

Directions
  1. Place the cubed chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag. Add the marinade or salad dressing and pesto. Mix well, seal, and place in the fridge to marinate for 4-6 hours. (I marinated mine in Kraft Lite Italian salad dressing overnight.)
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, cook your chicken in a large sautepan on medium heat until it is cooked thoroughly. Set aside on a plate, and discard any remaining liquid.
  4. In the same large sautepan, add the olive oil, garlic, and pesto on medium heat. Stir until mixed.
  5. Add the chicken broth, and simmer it on medium heat until reduced by half (took 5 minutes for me.)
  6. Add the tomato sauce, heavy cream, and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes (until it thickens and becomes more creamier in consistency).
  7. Once the sauce has thickened and reduced, add the cooked pasta, and top with cooked chicken. Toss to combine. 
  8. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Source: Adapted from Plain Chicken

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