With apologies to Rachael Ray, anyone with a well-stocked pantry can turn out a fantastic thirty-minute meal.
Pesto (made weeks ago and frozen in meal-sized portions, or even store-bought), dried pasta, slow-roasted tomatoes (also from the freezer, though sun-dried tomatoes would be fine), frozen chicken breasts, pine nuts, and good cheese: the only thing in this chicken pesto pasta that isn't directly from my pantry is... me! This dish is a garlic lover's dream, and a make-ahead cook's dream, too. Multiply the recipe to feed a crowd; prepare it the day before, and let it come to room temperature before you serve with a green salad, crusty bread, and a nice glass of wine.
Chicken pesto pasta
For the pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For the salad:
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 cups cooked pasta, any twisty shape (cellentani, rotini, gemelli, etc.)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked (roasted, grilled, baked, or poached), cut into 1-inch chunks
4 slow-roasted tomato halves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp pine nuts
Additional grated pecorino romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for topping (optional)
In a food processor, pulse together the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper, until everything is chopped finely. While the machine is running, add the oil in a stream through the feed tube, until the mixture turns into a sauce. Add the cheese all at once, and pulse a few times to combine. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Add enough of the pesto to coat, and stir well to combine. Store any leftover pesto in a container with an airtight lid, in the refrigerator or freezer.
Serve at room temperature, with optional extra cheese on top.
More pasta with pesto:
Pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto, from The Perfect Pantry
Penne with roasted red pepper pesto, from The Perfect Pantry
Chicken Florentine pesto pasta, from Simply Recipes
Baked chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese, from Kalyn's Kitchen
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