Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chicken Pesto Pasta

I confess . . . I am a Pinterest junkie.  I find that I pin hundreds of things, but I only actually try a handful of them.  Of the few recipes I have actually tried, Chicken Pesto Pasta has by far been the best.  It is easy and really is "oh so yummy".  The original recipe can be found here.  I lightened it up slightly and made a few adjustments to the cooking method to make it a little faster and easier for me.

The original recipe called for pesto and heavy cream.  To cut back on some of the fat, I used half and half in place of the cream.  I still felt kind of guilty eating the still fairly rich pasta.  So the next time I make it, I will probably use fat-free half and half.  The original recipe uses previously cooked chicken and makes the sauce separately.  I cooked the chicken in a large skillet and dumped the rest of the ingredients on top of it.  It allowed me to start with raw chicken and saved me dirtying an extra pan.  I also added a little garlic. My family loved this dish! 

Chicken Pesto Pasta  
Adapted from Oh So Yummy, Chicken Pesto Pasta by Marie on April 14, 2010 on the make and takes website. 

1 pound uncooked chicken, cubed
1 T olive oil
1/2 t seasoned salt 
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c half and half
1/4 c pesto (I used Classico Basil Pesto)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
1/2 box pasta (I used rigatoni)

Cook pasta according to the package instructions.  While pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto chicken.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add chicken to skillet.  Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt and pepper.  Cook chicken, stirring frequently, until no longer pink.  Add garlic and cook until chicken starts to brown and garlic is golden.  Add the half and half and pesto.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken.  Sprinkle with the 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted.  Add cooked pasta and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.  Serves 4

Gluten-free notes:  This dish can easily be made gluten-free.  Just replace the pasta with your favorite gluten-free variety.  According to the Heinz website (Heinz owns Classico), Classico Basil Pesto sold in the United States is gluten-free!

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