Pesto Chicken Pasta

My husband went on a long business trip recently. While I was happy to go with him, it meant living out of a glorified dorm room for several weeks. I didn’t even know if there would be a kitchen. As a fledgling food blogger, this made me quite nervous. But, I packed a few of my favorite knives and several glass prep bowls and off we went for two days of driving.

When we arrived in the room, I was happy to find a two-burner stovetop and an apartment-sized refrigerator. I was disappointed at the absence of an oven, but there’s still a lot I could do with a stovetop. My cooking adventures could continue in these spartan conditions.  I pinned lots of stove-top friendly meals and planned several charcuterie trays for quick meals and snacks.

During the last week of our stay, I began to clean out our refrigerator, and that is how this pesto chicken pasta was born. I had half a jar of pesto left from grilled sandwiches the week before, and some veggies leftover from a salad. With a little chicken and a few pantry staples, I knew I could make an easy dinner. Because I was in a small kitchen, I added the fresh broccoli to the pasta a few minutes before it was finished cooking. It saved me precious stovetop space and was faster. Feel free to cook the broccoli separately.

The sauce and veggies in this recipe are very customizable. Don’t want to deal with broccoli? Saute some spinach after the chicken is finished cooking. Cream or chicken broth alone could be used to make the sauce. You could toss in a splash of wine to deglaze the pan after the chicken is finished cooking. Feta crumbled over the top would be an excellent alternative to the parmesan in the sauce. Experiment and have fun!

Inspired by Kevin Is Cooking.

Pesto Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

  • 6 T. pesto, divided
  • 1/2 lb. pasta
  • 1/2 lb. of broccoli florets
  • 1-2 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 oz. chicken broth (3/4 of a 14 oz. can)
  • 1/4 c. cream
  • 1 T. cornstarch mixed with 2 T. cold water
  • 1 c. shredded parmesan
  • 1 small cucumber, cut into slices then quartered
  • 1/2 a package of grape tomatoes, cut in half

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Three minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli to the boiling pasta. Finish cooking the pasta and broccoli together. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a high-sided pan over medium high heat. Season the chicken cubes with salt, pepper, basil, and 2 T. of pesto. Saute chicken until cooked through, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally Remove chicken and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken broth to the pan, and scrape the bottom to remove any browned bits leftover from cooking the chicken. Add the cream and 4 T. of the pesto.
  4. To thicken the sauce, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Allow the sauce to come to a boil, stirring occasionally, until it's thickened to your desired consistency.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the parmesan until it's melted. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.
  6. Add the pasta, broccoli, and chicken to the sauce and stir to coat. Sprinkle with diced cucumbers and tomatoes. Enjoy!

Notes

This recipe is yummy hot or eaten cold as a pasta salad.

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A recipe born out of cleaning out the fridge! Pesto Chicken Pasta is the perfect summer meal.

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