Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chicken Breast over Pesto Cream Pasta

Let me just say for the record that I love basil. I love it. It is my favourite herb, by far. I could eat it in so many things and be happy. I love basil in chocolate. I love basil in sauces. I love basil with tomatoes. I just love it.

So it is needless to say that I also, in turn, love pesto. It took me a long time to realize I loved pesto as much as I do. I never ate it through middle or high school (eyuck, green stuff!). I don't even think I had it throughout most of college. Then it was all about tomato sauces. I didn't even like cream sauces that much. So when I finally owned up and just HAD pesto I was blown away.

Pesto is something, I feel, that may be hard to make right. Sometimes I get it at restaurants and it's too oily, or way too salty. I like it when it's... you know, just the right amount of basil punch. Thick and rich. I like it to be salty with the taste of parmesan, not salt. I want it to take fresh and rich. I never buy it from a tub (again, yuck!).

But I love it, still, all the same. Spread on my sandwiches, put in my pasta, topping my risotto. So I had to try my hand at some pesto cream sauce (I know, it took me way too long rambling about how much I love pesto and basil to get to this part). This was a recipe I seriously made from scratch, just fooling around in my kitchen. It's also I made a long time ago (surprise, surprise!). That said, I remember eating this and just being so happy with it. I remember how warm and rich it was. I remember adding more basil leaves because I couldn't get enough. It made me a very pleased Stephanie, and so... I probably will have to make it again. If and when I do, I will likely revise this recipe for better deliciousness.

(I enjoy my basil pesto pasta with a bottle of blackberry beer. Note, this was NOT a good combination).
The chicken, too, was a welcome addition. I try to make sure all my flavours will go together well when I make it.... so I seasoned this with some poultry seasoning, rosemary, and some extra dried basil as well. I also spiced it up with a little cayenne pepper. Then it was grilled on my Wolfgang Puck grill while I made the sauce. I didn't want the chicken to have too much flavour so that it would overpower the pesto, but I also didn't want it to sit alone and not have anything at all going for it. So that was a triumph!

Mmm, pesto. This makes me so happy.

Chicken Breast over Pesto Cream Pasta

2 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/8 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 box of pasta, boiled el dente (I use fancy multigrain protein plus style pasta, personally)

Boil Pasta in salted water as per directions~

Rub each side of each chicken breast with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon olive oil. Follow with evenly divided portions of seasonings for each chicken breast. Rub it in.
Grill over medium-high heat until cooked throughout.

Meanwhile, blend together the garlic, pine nuts, and basil. Once thoroughly blended, slowly pour in extra virgin olive oil. Take pesto and transfer to a saucepan, add in parmesan cheese and cream and heat over low to medium-low heat. Continuously stir until well mixed and thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drain pasta and stir in a little olive oil so it doesn't stick. Serve topped with chicken breast and pesto cream sauce, garnish with basil, some pine nuts, and maybe even a little extra parmesan cheese.

So good~!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mary's Pasta Salad

Oh boy, is this an old post!! This was a pasta salad that Brian had made, about a year ago-- it took me that long to get the recipe from him! I'm glad I did, because now I can carry on the recipe myself. It was sent to him by his mom, Mary, whom I adore-- I am so glad that she was willing to pass on some of her recipes so I can share them with everyone!

The trick with this pasta salad is that the dressing is a little vinegary-- which I thought would be weird at first, but honestly turned out to be quite delicious (I'm so lucky to have been able to try it!!). It melds really well with the broccoli, carrots, olives.... I especially loved the olives, tomatoes, and cubes of cheese. The chicken that Brian had used was a precooked lemon chicken breast, I believe, and the lemon to the chicken provided a really nice combination of flavours.

This recipe makes a huuuge portion, we ate it for like a week! So next time I make it I know that I'll be able to eat it for basically forever. It seems like such a great dish to take to a family potluck or picnic or something-- and I can't wait to make it again. Now all I need is to get their grasshopper pie recipe. :)
Mary's Pasta Salad
Recipe by Mary Retchless


1/3 Cup Olive Oil
½ Cup White Wine Vinegar (or up to 2/3 Cup if you like a stronger vinegar taste)
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Cloves Garlic minced or crushed
2 tsp. Basil Leaves

Combine all and whisk together


2 Cups Broccoli Flowerets (boil in water 2 minutes, remove and rinse under cold water)
1 Cup Chopped Carrots (boil in water 2 minutes, remove and rinse under cold water)
½ Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin into 1” long strips
4 Scallions chopped with green ends included
2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes
¼ Cup Cilantro chopped
1 Cup sliced black olives
1 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, cubed
Grilled Chicken Breast, cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 16oz pkg. of Tri-Color or Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta, cooked el dente and rinsed with cold water.

Combine all the above ingredients. Pour in dressing. Toss thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.