August 17, 2010

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

I have had some real stinker recipes lately. Stuff that was not even post-worthy. Thankfully, this was not one of those meals. I had a completely different dinner slotted for tonight's menu, but I did not want to chance another sucky experiment. I just didn't have it in me. I switched a few nights up, so we could have this dish instead. My friend, Claire told me about this pasta salad that she found in her copy of America's Test Kitchen "30-Minute Suppers Summer 2010" special issue magazine. They tried it and loved it, so I was pretty confident that it would be great. Sure enough, it was fantastic! Hooray!!! I think both Claire and America's Test Kitchen saved our dinner plans.

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken
From: America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers Summer 2010 Special Issue

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp juice from 1 lemon
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 pound)
1 pound fusilli
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) baby arugula

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Combine pine nuts, cheese, garlic, basil, and lemon juice in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. With processor running, slowly pour in 2/3 cup olive oil and process until smooth.

Brush chicken with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over hot fire until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and tent with foil. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon salt and fusilli to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, drain fusilli, and rinse fusilli with cold water. Transfer cooked fusilli to large bowl.

Toss pesto, chicken, tomatoes, and arugula with fusilli, adding reserved cooking water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

The Result:
So, I cheated a little. I didn't make the pesto, but used good quality jarred pesto instead. It was just easier. I also used rotini whole wheat pasta, chopped heirloom tomatoes, and added some shredded asiago and sharp provolone cheese for fun. Come to think of it, I cheated a lot. It still turned out fabulous!!! We served it at room temperature, and the flavors were so refreshing. Our meal was certainly a tasty summertime treat. Yum! This recipe is another keeper!

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