Monday, September 19, 2011

Recipe: Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Like most athletes, I LOVE carbohydrates. Bread, cereal, you name it, I love it. Remember a couple years ago when the Atkins diet was all the rage? There’s no way I could have stuck to that, I just love carbs too much. However, I do try to be smart about what carbs I eat, sticking as much as possible to whole grains and minimal additives. Now, thanks to the places like the Atherton Market, Nova’s Bakery and Common Market, you can purchase local whole grain breads and pastas that are low in preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients.

I love pasta but it is not a meal by itself; you have to add a sauce or accompaniment that accents the pasta and adds flavor as well. I’ve posted in the past about my really simple tomato sauce but there are, of course, other options. Below is my pesto recipe that I make using a tiny Cuisinart food processor. Like a lot of what I make, pesto is easily frozen and brought back to life later when basil is no longer in season.

A note on basil: this herb baffles me in the super market. Ask anyone with a garden and they’ll tell you that basil is like a weed: cut some of it back and it will return three times as thick. This time of year, my friends with basil plants are literally forcing it on me. Even better, I hear you don’t have to plant it each year, it just comes back (I don’t say this from experience since, as avid readers know, I fail at anything related to growing plants). The moral of the story is that you can usually get basil for free from friends or cheap from a farmers market and it will be higher quality that anything you buy from the grocery store. The basil below was straight from my sister’s garden in Chapel Hill and was a combination of common basil and lemon basil. The chicken I got from Windy Hill months ago and the garlic is from Houston Farms.

Pesto Pasta with Chicken (LPO)
4 cups basil (leaves only)
½ cup Parmesan
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts or slivered almonds
3 + 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large chicken breasts

Pesto sauce:

  1. Put nuts and garlic in food processor and pulse a couple times till somewhat chopped
  2. Add basil and pulse until the leaves are reduced
  3. Add Parmesan, salt and 3 tablespoons olive oil and pulse until a paste is made


  1. Slice chicken breasts width-wise
  2. Heat olive oil on medium-high then add chicken slices (add salt and pepper as you like)
  3. Saute until cooked through
  4. Boil pasta till at desired tenderness
  5. Drain pasta but save ½ cup of the pasta water
  6. In a medium/large bowl, combine the pesto, cooked chicken and pasta with pasta water (this helps break up the pesto and makes it stick to the pasta)
  7. Enjoy hot with more Parmesan!

I served my pesto with a cucumber-tomato-garbonzo bean salad.

1 comment:

  1. I just stumbled across your blog. It's nice to find someone else who is writing about eating locally in Charlotte! I'm currently in the process of starting up a website on the topic,

    The pesto and bean salad look delicious! I sometimes like to add chili flakes to pesto sauce to give it a different twist.