Hi. Remember me??
I am sorry for my absence lately… let’s recap: I finally left my dead end job and got a new job which is completely different than anything I have done (in a very good way). It is amazing to be busy for the entire work day and not be checking the clock every 5 minutes. I am still planning the wedding and can happily report most of the major things are done (well…sorta, kinda). Things are moving along which I guess is the good thing about planning! Also, I just recently got back from California where Matt took me for my last birthday as a Bielat (sad face). We spent a few days bunking with my fantastic family and hiking in Yosemite National Park….it was EXACTLY what we both needed.
Now that I have caught you up on my life, (sorry the void is not more interesting) let’s talk about this meal and the 6 times I’ve made it since the first time I put it on the table. It’s a dish I wanted to share with you since the first time I mixed the ingredients together but it gets inhaled so fast there was no way I was going to get a decent picture. Even these are mediocre at best because Matt was salivating over my shoulder with his knife and fork in hand. I don’t even know what to call it besides a delicious plate of green goodness… so that’s what we are going with.
A Delicious Plate of Green Goodness
*I apologize up front for my lack of precise measurements in this dish….it’s just one of those dishes you need to taste as you go and I make LOTS so Matt and I can have lunch for 2-3 days after (bonus- this heats up really well!!)*
1 Bunch of Asparagus
1-1 1/2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken (I season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice)
Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
Basil (about 2 cups)
Spinach (I use a couple of handfuls to give it a richer color)
Handful of Walnuts (mostly because I have these on hand all the time and NEVER have pine nuts)
2-3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
First things first, I get my salted water in a pot and turn the heat up to high.
Next, I put my chicken in the oven to bake while I prep everything else. I bake the chicken at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (these are chicken tender size, not breasts).
To assemble the pesto: If you have a food processor this whole process will go MUCH easier… I however only have a blender to work with… it does the job. Roll the basil leaves and spinach leaves into rolls and slice thinly. Toast the walnuts and roughly chop. Toss the first 4 of the pesto ingredients in the blender and mix together. Slowly add the olive oil until everything is blended together and a nice consistency. After add the parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly. Set aside still, keeping in the blender.
Back to the pasta water: Once your water has come to a boil toss in your pasta. Rule of thumb for this dish in measuring your pasta: you only want to use half of your normal serving size. The idea is to use your veggies as the other half. While your pasta is boiling, cut your asparagus and your zucchini to mimic the size of your penne. When your pasta is about half way done cooking toss your veggies into the same water and let cook with the pasta until both are done.
Before you drain your pasta veggie mix take a ladle full of the pasta water and put in your blender with the pesto, blend together. This will make your pesto slightly thinner and you will have enough to coat your entire dish.
Drain your veggies and put in a large serving bowl. Add your cut up chicken (once baked, I cut in bite size pieces) and put your pesto sauce on top. Mix all the ingredients together and indulge.
Remember, this makes great leftovers so make lots.