We love Italian cooking around these parts. My husband has Italian ancestry we enjoy Italian dishes all the time. We even went to Italy for our honeymoon.
When I was a single girl I’d make this meal for myself the easy way: with pre-cooked fajita chicken breasts from the deli and store-bought pesto sauce in a jar. I think my husband would disown me if I did that now. Because he’s such a great cook, and always spoils me with his culinary talents, I decided to treat him to a homemade pesto chicken penne and broccoli.
Here’s the grown-up (and tastier) version of that meal.
Chicken pasta with homemade pesto and broccoli
- basil pesto recipe below
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- frozen broccoli florets
- Reggiano-Parmigiano shredded
- 2 chicken breasts halved and cut into strips
- 13.25 oz. whole-wheat penne cooked
- 2 tbsp. shredded Reggiano-Parmigiano
- 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried completely
Using a food processor, chop the two peeled garlic cloves.
Add in the pine nuts (or walnuts) and the shredded Reggiano-Parmigiano.
Pour in about half of the extra virgin olive oil and pulse on the food processor setting.
After it has mixed well, squeeze half of the basil. Sprinkle in the salt and pulse. Slowly add the remaining olive oil.
Turn off the food processor. Taste. Add more basil to taste. (If it tastes a bit spicy you added too much basil. Add more of the other ingredients until it balances out).
Crush 4-6 cloves of garlic and marinate the chicken breasts with the garlic and some of the pesto sauce.
Heat 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan on medium-high.
Cook the pesto-marinated chicken about 4 minutes on each side, slowly adding more of the pesto sauce (and olive oil) as needed.
Add in the frozen broccoli florets and 2 tbsp of water, and reduce heat to medium-low. (If needed, thaw the broccoli in a shallow bowl of water; drain; add to pan).
In a separate sauce pan, cook the pasta until al dente.
Once the broccoli florets have softened, add the cooked pasta and any remaining pesto sauce and mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with shaved parmesan cheese (optional). Serve.
We are garlic lovers in this household, so if you don't like too much garlic then cut back when seasoning the chicken breasts. If you hate garlic, this meal may not be for you.