Chicken Tomato Pesto with Whole Wheat Penne

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Last night I was inspired by a Pesto Penne recipe, but wanted to use what was in my house, and try to "de-fatten" some parts of the recipe as well. I try to use whole wheat pasta whenever possible, and just overcook it slightly to take out some of the inevitable bite that whole wheat brings to the pasta's texture.

Here's what I used:

1 box Whole Wheat Penne Dried Pasta

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts, cut into 1" or so strips
3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp tomato pesto w/ olives (this is just what I already had, regular pesto is great too)
2 cups fat-free 1/2 and 1/2
2 tbsp butter (can substitute Smart Start)
1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup grated parmesan

Here's what I did:

First I started by filling a large stockpot with about 4" of water, added salt, set to high and put on the lid. Once boiling, I added my pasta and let cook, stirring occasionally (penne sometimes sticks together).

Meanwhile, I seasoned my chicken strips with S&P, and added the olive oil to a teflon-coated skillet, let it heat for a minute. Once the oil was hot, I added my chicken strips and cooked for about 2-3 minutes per side. (Cook longer if you leave the breasts in tact - strips cook much faster). I lined a plate with paper towels and removed the cooked chicken, and upturned another plate on top - to keep in the steam/heat.

Then I started my sauce. In the same skillet used for the chicken, I drained the olive oil, but didn't dry it out. I added the butter, and then 1/2 & 1/2 and garlic powder and let cook for about 5-10 minutes. The fat free 1/2 & 1/2 starts to develop a bit of a "skin" on the surface as it cooks, but don't worry, it will still taste great! Add the tomato pesto, and cook for another 5 minutes.

As the sauce was finishing off, I drained my pasta and added it back to the stock pot. I also cut my chicken on the diagonal, into 1" pieces (and cut a few even smaller for my daughter to eat). Finally, I added the sauce, and the parmesan cheese and gave it all a good stir.

This one was a huge hit with my daugher, she usually picks her way through her dinner, and most goes to our two dogs, who are hovering below. I call them the "sharks" because they just circle and stare up at the high chair, watching and jerking their heads looking for a spare, flying morsel. I think they were pretty dissapointed, she wasn't too into sharing.

My husband also liked it, but he is Italian, and loves his white pastas. He's still not a fan of whole wheat. I overcook it mostly to please him, and make it taste closer to white pasta. He said it was "good", but would have been better with white pasta. Yea, well, his waistline will thank me, and pretty sure he didn't go to bed hungry either. ;)


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