A few weeks ago, I made a pasta dish that was knock-your-socks-off good. I whipped it up fast one night for dinner, and it turned out amazing. My bad habit in the kitchen is making these yummy dishes, but not measuring anything out. I know that’s typical for most people who love to cook, but I’m a food blogger now, so I have to keep this in mind. Anyway, quality control loved it, and has asked for it every week since. I think I’ve made this at least four times to try and get all the measurements perfect. You’re welcome. 🙂
I was craving pesto pretty bad when I got the idea for this dish. With spring finally making an appearance, I’m itching to grow fresh herbs in the garden. Store-bought pesto is great on a whim if you’re short on time, but honestly, fresh homemade pesto is so easy to make, and it only takes about 10 minutes.
My counter was an absolute mess the day I made this pesto – which is pretty typical when I’m crafting a recipe for the blog – hence the random pineapple in the background. I did try to blur everything else out though, which was mostly successful.
What’s fun about making pesto is it’s so versatile. You can get so creative! Especially with herbs and nuts. Most of the time basil pesto is made with pine nuts, but I never have them on hand, so I substituted with walnuts and it out great.
What you need:
- Fresh basil (organic if you can)
- Fresh parmesan
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
- Walnut pieces
- Fresh garlic
And voila! The finished product! Doesn’t that look pretty!? It’s so bright and colourful and definitely reminds me of spring!
So, I didn’t actually share what kind of pasta dish this is. Which is probably important. Because I’m sure you’re wondering what else is in this dish since all I’ve done is ramble on about pesto.
I’m not really sure what to name it. It’s got chicken, broccoli, bowtie pasta, with pesto… I feel like it’s going to be a mouthful of a title… Chicken and broccoli with bowties and spinach basil pesto. Hmm…
I’ll have to think on that a bit longer.
Here’s a sneak peek of the finished product…
Honestly, I think sometimes I have more fun taking pictures of the finished product than I do cooking and developing it. Food is art. And it’s the best kind of art because it’s edible. You don’t have to leave it behind. I get to indulge in my art once it’s done being photographed.
Back to the recipe. Once you’re done making the basil pesto, it’s time to prep rest of the dish. You’re going to need two boneless skinless chicken breasts. I pound mine out, because it makes them more tender, and they also cook quicker in the pan. Before they go in the pan, season them with salt and pepper. You want to get the pan nice and hot to get a nice crust on them.
BTW, I cooked this in a cast-iron skillet. I LOVE my cast-iron pan. It was one of the greatest investments ever. If you have an extra $45 laying around, I highly recommend a “Lodge” cast-iron pan. Made in USA, will last you forever. A regular frying pan will also work fine too.
Aside from cooking the pasta, the rest of this meal is all cooked in the pan that you cook your chicken in. It’s almost a one-pan meal. Once you’ve cooked your chicken, let it rest and prepare the rest of the ingredients. The rest of this dish comes together pretty quickly, so it’s good to have everything prepared before you cook it. Boil your pasta, slice a red onion, chop the broccoli florets, measure out some chicken broth, and grate the cheeses… mmm cheese.
Because let’s be honest, what is a pasta dish without cheese?
Once you cook up everything in the skillet, your end result will hopefully look like this…
This picture definitely says spring!
I love this dish because it’s not a typical heavy pasta dish. The pesto as a sauce keeps it light, and the cheese adds a sharpness that compliments the garlicky pesto perfectly. It’s such a great balance of flavours.
You will be able to serve 4 with this recipe… so if you have guests coming and want to impress… this is a winner. This dish is a little heavy on the carbs, but also healthy and nutritious. There’s fresh vegetables, lean meat, and you can’t beat homemade pesto made with healthy fats and powerhouse foods like olive oil, lemon, spinach and garlic.
This pasta literally makes me so happy every time I eat it. It has officially made it into the bi-weekly dinner rotation, and I know we’ll be eating it all summer too.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Happy eating!
Chicken and Broccoli with Basil Spinach Pesto Bowties
- 2 chicken breasts pounded to about 1/2 inch thickness
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 red onion sliced thin
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1/2 cup asiago cheese grated
- 2 1/4 cups bowtie pasta measured dry
- 1 cup basil spinach pesto see recipe below
Start out by trimming any excess fat off the chicken breasts. Between two pieces of plastic wrap, pound out the chicken until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper. (Pounding out the chicken cuts down the cooking time.)
For the noodles, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to the directions on the package. (Usually 8-9 minutes). Once they are finished, drain the pasta water, rinse the noodles and set aside.
On medium-high heat, put 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken breasts, and cook for 15 minutes, turning them over halfway through. Chicken will get crispy and brown on the outside. When it is done, remove from the pan and place on a cutting board to rest. Let them rest about 5 minutes, then slice lengthwise.
Turn down the heat to medium and add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the same pan the you cooked the chicken. Add the broccoli florets. Sautee for 2 minutes and add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth to the pan. Cover with a lid, and cook the broccoli for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the lid, and add the red onion. The chicken broth will have dried up. Sautee the onions for about 1 minute, and add the remaining chicken broth. Cook until the onions have softened, another 2-3 minutes.
Add the noodles, chicken, and pesto to the pan and toss everything together until the pesto is well coated over the ingredients in the pan. Mix the cheeses in with the pasta, remove from the heat and serve.
Basil Spinach Pesto
- 1 cup fresh basil (about 40 grams) organic if possible
- 1.5 cups loosely packed spinach about 2 handfuls)
- 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese grated
- 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice about 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
In a food processor, add the basil, spinach, parmesan cheese, chopped walnuts, garlic, lemon juice and salt.
Start pulsing the pesto on the lowest setting. As it is breaking down, slowly add in the olive oil. Pulse for a few minutes until it is nice and smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.