Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta with Peas

I made this double for a friend who broke her arm. It was a good dish to double since it was as easy as making one. I would double it again and freeze the second for a future meal. This is also good cold as a pasta salad - I can attest to this since mom and I had the leftovers pool-side on Friday!

Here is the recipe including the amounts to make two casserole dishes full:

4 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 T Garlic Seasoning (I use Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic but you can also use fresh or canned chopped garlic, along with Italian Seasoning)
1 Box of Pasta (I used a new shape but you can use any shape that will hold up against the chicken chunks)

4 T Pesto (I used my Tastefully Simple Garlic Pesto mix which made it super simple but you can buy pesto or make some from scratch with pine nuts, salt and pepper, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil)
3 C Frozen Peas
1 C Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

So, here is a tip for when you buy bulk chicken (or any meat for that matter). When I come home with an Extreme Value Pack of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, I separate them, leave some naked, and season separate packets of 3 breasts with different seasoning combos. Some of our favorites are Salsa, Lemon Pepper, Garlic, and BBQ. Be careful not to use too much citrus because the acid breaks the chicken down too much if it is left to marinate. When you are ready for a quick meal, thaw it out and throw it on the grill, in the skillet, or under the broiler. Nuke some sides (Green Giant even does one with rice and another with potatoes) and call it dinner!

I am telling you all of this because I had some Garlic Garlic chicken in the freezer and used it for this. If you don't have such a thing in your freezer, just season your chicken before you put it on the grill.

The Play by Play:
Preheat Grill to medium high, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare a large pot of salted water for pasta boiling.
Grill chicken breasts until done. While the chicken is grilling; boil the pasta and make the pesto, if necessary.

Once the chicken is cooked through, cut into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl gently fold together the chicken, pasta and pesto until everything is coated well. Add the peas and stir carefully so as not to end up with mushy peas.

Separate into two casserole dishes and top with the parmesan cheese. If you are cooking one ahead of time, you can go ahead and wrap that up now and put it in the freezer. When you are ready to serve this meal, place the casserole dish in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve with a side salad.

Since my little one can't do the cheese, we just added the cheese to our individual servings and left it off his. I did melt the cheese for my friend's family, though.

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