Pesto Chicken Penne

pesto chicken penneSpinach in our harvest box always makes me nervous. I love baby spinach in a salad, but have bad memories of cafeteria canned spinach in elementary school. The spinach we got in our box this time was past its baby stage, so it had to be cooked. I found this recipe for spinach pesto on about.com several years ago. Usually, I just use it on plain pasta, but decided to add some chicken this time. I try to use fresh basil rather than dried when I can.

Pesto Chicken Penne
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound chicken breast, diced
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese plus extra for sprinkling over the pasta.
Instructions
  1. Cook penne according to package directions.
  2. While pasta cooks, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add cubed chicken, season with pepper. Cook chicken until golden brown.
  3. While chicken cooks, make the pesto. In a food processor or blender, grind ½ the spinach, the garlic, pine nuts, and basil with a little bit of the remaining oil. Slowly add remaining spinach and oil, then cheese. Process until smooth.
  4. Add cooked penne to chicken in the skillet. Pour pesto over, tossing to coat. Continue to cook, tossing frequently, until the pesto is heated through. Serve with additional parmesan sprinkled on top.

This is a great work night dinner, since it is quick and tasty.

Happy eating!

Ruth

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