October 17 is National Pasta Day! (Part One - Pesto Pasta with Chicken)

October 17 is National Pasta Day.  In its honor here is one of John’s very favorite dinners: Pesto Pasta with Chicken. 

simple ingredients make a spectacular "homecoming" dinner

simple ingredients make a spectacular "homecoming" dinner

This has become a standard “homecoming” quick dinner in our house – I often make it when we come home from a weekend away, as I usually have pesto and grilled chicken breasts or sausages in the freezer.  It’s easy, fast, satisfying and comforting. 

John prefers boneless skinless grilled chicken breast pieces but it’s also really good with Italian sausages – or vegetarian with some grilled peppers and/or sliced portobellos.  

I will often use store-bought pesto, but this is an easy recipe for the real thing, with fresh basil from my garden.  This is one of those years where the basil just keeps on growing into the fall.  Love it!

Fresh basil from my garden goes into my easy homemade pesto 

Fresh basil from my garden goes into my easy homemade pesto 

Pesto Pasta with Chicken

2 cups packed fresh Basil Leaves

2 cloves Garlic

¼ cup Pine Nuts

2/3 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Combine the basil leaves, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped.  Add ½ cup of the olive oil and process until fully incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper. 

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle on the remaining olive oil over the top.  Freeze up to three months.  When ready to use, thaw and add the parmesan cheese. 

If using immediately, add all the oil, pulse until smooth, and then mix in the parmesan cheese.

Grill chicken breasts or Italian sausages.  Let them rest and slice on the diagonal.  Cook your favorite pasta – John likes fusilli or mini-farfalle.  Drain, return to the pot and add the pesto. 

Serve in large pasta bowls and top with the chicken or sausage pieces. 

Serve Pesto Pasta with Chicken in large pasta bowls

Serve Pesto Pasta with Chicken in large pasta bowls

EnJOY!