Simple dining #1 – Pesto Chicken & Pasta

I love to cook, and I love to eat, but I hate to go grocery shopping. And because I hate to grocery shop, we only do it once a week. Which means, I have to have a weekly menu planned out and a detailed list of ingredients all prepared before I ever leave the house. If I don’t, we’re in big trouble by the time I hit the grocery store parking lot.

I’ve gone without a list before, and it’s not pretty, I can assure you of that. I will wonder the aisles aimlessly, glassy eyed, trying to figure out what sounds good….what do I already have in my pantry that I can use……I wonder if Sam will mind eating cereal and Nutella sandwiches for dinner all week? Dinners that week are pretty sad really, because Sam really does mind eating cereal and Nutella….for the life of me I just can’t figure that one out………

So, because I hate grocery shopping and we only go once a week, by the end of the week my pantry is pretty bare, and inevitably what I’ve got on the menu for that night no longer sounds too appealing. Plus, I just get lazy sometimes……hey, there’s no shame in admitting that even those of us that love to cook dread fixing dinner sometimes. So on those nights, I want something quick, tasty, comforting, and simple. I want a 15 minute meal that I can make with the “staple ingredients” in my pantry – which just happened to be Classico basil pesto, Gemelli shaped pasta, and a block of fresh Parmesan cheese. Oh, and I happened to have two frozen chicken breasts in the freezer still.

Pesto Chicken & Pasta is one of the quickest and easiest meals I can make. It’s a three step recipe that has only three main ingredients – store bought pesto, chicken breasts, and pasta; and it comes together in about 15 to 20 minutes.

Now for those of you who are turning your nose up at this tasty offering because it’s over-simplified or because I’m using store bought ingredients, I offer you my sympathy. If you have oodles of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil on hand, go ahead and make your own pesto sauce. I’m totally for that. I however was feeling very lazy yesterday and did not currently have an abundance of those ingredients on hand. But this is a matter of taste and I can respect you for that. So go ahead and make your own pesto if you are so inclined.

This meal is also great if you’re on a tight budget like we are, or you have picky eaters in your family. The ingredients have simple clean flavors, and variety in pasta shapes can guarantee a fun meal for kids of all ages. The ingredients can easily be changed up to fit your tastes – use red or green pesto sauce; add a handful of frozen peas for extra color, and whole wheat pasta is great for those of you who are looking to add more fiber and less calories to your diet. If you’re a pasta eater, give this simple recipe a try!

Pesto Chicken & Pasta

* 1 pound pasta shapes of your choice (whole wheat pasta works great)
* 2 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
* 1 10-ounce jar green or red pesto sauce (we use Classico brand)
fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta in salted water until al-dente, according to the package directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with a little vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray. Add chicken pieces and cook until browned on all sides and no pink remains in the center of each piece. Remove from heat.
3. Add cooked and drained pasta directly to the hot skillet of chicken and stir in the jar of pesto sauce. Toss well to completely coat all the pasta and chicken with the pesto sauce. Serve hot with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, a side salad and crostini.

Yields: 4 main dish servings



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