Creamy Pesto with Asparagus and Chicken

image

I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus.  Not because I haven’t been cooking.  Probably mostly because I’ve been a bit lazy.  Last weekend we went to an Italian restaurant with a group of people and a friend ordered linguini with a creamy pesto sauce.  She said it was excellent and wanted to know how to make it so I thought I’d do a little experimenting.  I don’t usually like cream sauces but I actually did like this.  I liked it a lot.  I also prefer angel hair over linguini or fettuccini so that’s what I used.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken broth (I used better than bouillon)

2 T butter

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese plus more for finishing

1-2 T olive oil

1 chicken breast sliced into medallions

1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1 can baby artichokes halved

1 heirloom tomato diced

1/2 pound pasta of your choice

image

Heat a large kettle of salted water to boiling and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into medallions, season with salt and pepper and sear on both sides.  Put on a platter and keep warm until serving.

image image

If necessary add a little more olive oil to the skillet and add the asparagus.  Cook over medium high heat just until tender tossing occasionally.  Add the artichokes to the skillet and keep warm.

image image

In a medium size, heavy sauce pan heat the cream and chicken broth to a simmer.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Stir in the pesto and garlic powder.  Add the shredded Parmesan and stir until melted.

image image

Put the cooked pasta in a large skillet over low heat.  Reserve some of the pasta water.  Add the asparagus and artichoke hearts to the pasta.

image image

Add the chicken and the sauce and toss to coat.  If necessary add some of the pasta water.

image image

Add the tomatoes just before serving.

image

Serve in pasta bowls and garnish with some additional shredded cheese and cracked pepper.  This dish was very yummy and for sure I will make it again.  I think that the addition of the pesto and the chicken broth made this dish a little less rich than typical cream sauces although heavy cream and butter play a major role here.

You can add your favorite vegetables in place of the asparagus and artichoke hearts or in addition to them.  You could also substitute shrimp or bay scallops for the chicken or make the dish meatless.  I used prepared pesto but obviously you could make your own and that would make the dish even better!

Mangia!Mangia!

Angel Hair Pasta with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

image

 

This weekend we had very special friends visit from out of town. Pasta dishes are always favorites with them so I decided to make pasta two ways. Two ways that were both new recipe interpretations for me which is only a safe thing to do if your guests love you unconditionally. One pasta was a red dish, the other was white. One was meatless, the other had sausage. Both of them turned out very well. I’m going to share the meatless red here. Angel hair pasta with oven roasted tomatoes…it’s what was for dinner and again for lunch the next day.

 

This recipe is only something you’ll want to try if you will be home all afternoon and if you love the smell of roasting garlic and tomato. Everyone who walked in that afternoon commented on the strong aroma of garlic.  You could roast the tomatoes without the garlic but the flavor would not be the same.  The first part of this dish is the time consuming part…not a lot of work, just time.

Get ready to roast your tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 350 with the racks in the top third of the oven. I combined different kinds of tomatoes…Romas, beefsteak, and small heirloom tomatoes.

imageimage

Slice the romas and the beefsteaks. Leave the cherry/grape tomatoes whole. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl, add 1/2 cup of olive oil and toss the tomatoes to coat. Spread them out in a single layer on jelly roll pans. Peel and smash a dozen or so cloves of garlic and distribute between the two pans of tomatoes. Lightly salt. Turn the oven down to 225 and put the tomatoes in. Roast them for six hours switching the position of the pans after three hours.

image

 

I told you this process was not at all difficult. It won’t take long and the garlic aromas will begin to permeate the kitchen. These tomatoes are so yummy. You won’t ever want to buy sundried, jarred tomatoes again. Throw the garlic away. It will be tough. The flavors have married the tomatoes and olive oil.

image

 

Now for the pasta sauce.

3 cups of oven roasted tomatoes (rough chop slices)

2-3 cloves of garlic thin sliced

5-6 anchovy filets

2 T olive oil

1 tsp crushed red pepper

2 T tomato paste

1 pint jar diced tomatoes

20 or so kalamata olives coarsely chopped

10 or so large green olives coarsely chopped

3 T capers

fresh grated asiago cheese

image

 

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Briefly sauté the garlic slices. Add the anchovy filets and sauté until they melt into the oil. Add the pepper flakes and tomato paste. Add the chopped tomatoes, the olives and capers, and the oven roasted tomatoes. Simmer until thoroughly heated.

image

 

Combine the sauce and pasta and toss. Add a half cup or so of the pasta water if necessary. Top with fresh grated asiago cheese. Serve with a tossed salad and some crusty bread.

If you have more than three cups of oven roasted tomatoes there are any number of uses for them in addition to just eating them straight up. They would be great in an omelet, on a sandwich, in a salad. I used the tomatoes I had left tonight when I roasted a pork loin with Brussels sprouts and baby Yukon gold potatoes. I added them to the vegetables when the cook time was almost up.