Easy Peasy Pesto Pasta

No matter how hard we try to keep things fun with meal planning and shopping at the farmers' market, some nights cooking dinner is a chore. This recipe is perfect for nights when you're just not feelin' it. 

@Cookesinthekitchen presents Easy Peasy Pesto Pasta: a dish that will make your significant other or dinner party guests think you toiled away in the kitchen for an hour, when you secretly only spent 10 minutes

STAR OF THE SHOW: Baby Clydesdale's Spicy Vegan Pesto

Preppin’ is easy: Open some jars, chop some garlic, heat some pans, and dinner is ready. Sautéed spinach is delicious and crazy nutritious, and sun-dried tomatoes stored in olive oil will make your taste buds break out in a drum solo. Oh, did we mention we’re using a WHOLE 8 oz. jar of Spicy Vegan Pesto? Basically, your taste buds just went from bongos to a complete philharmonic orchestra.

    

Get some fresh spinach from your local farmers market or buy some at the grocery store. Either way, always make sure you wash the spinach no matter if it’s labeled “Pre-Washed.” To enhance the flavor and make it blend in nicely with the dish, you’ll want to sauté the spinach in some garlic and heated olive oil until it’s wilted. You could actually eat this on its own it’s so good!

As for the sun-dried tomatoes, open that jar, separate the tomatoes from the olive oil using a strainer, and chop them to the consistency you desire. Easy. Peasy.

    

Chicken Cutlets: This is not a necessary component for this dish, but it adds a nice touch of protein. We typically season our chicken with only S&P (both sides), and then grill for a few minutes each side. Quick and painless.

Veggie Option: If you're vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute the chicken for chickpeas or cannellini beans. 

    

Pasta Time! This is a critical moment in your cooking session. Seasoning can really only happen once, so you wanna do it right. Add salt once the water is boiling. You want the water to taste like salt water, so keep pouring (Rule of thumb: 1-2 tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta). The only bad thing that can happen is your pasta tastes better. 

All together now: You have sautéed spinach. You have chopped sun-dried tomatoes. You have cooked pasta. You have a jar of Baby Clydesdale Spicy Vegan Pesto. What are you waiting for?! Mix it up & enjoy!

Ingredients (roughly three servings, but we’re pigs):

  • Pasta: one (1) pound of fresh Radiatori from our local pasta maker (you can substitute with a box of penne or fusilli or even bow ties) 
  • Sautéed Spinach: three (3) cups of washed spinach, four (4) cloves of garlic, two (2) tablespoons of olive oil, S&P to taste
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes: eight (8) ounce jar of sun dried tomatoes in pure olive oil 
  • Pesto: take a guess… yes, it’s a WHOLE jar of Baby Clydesdale Spicy Vegan Pesto
  • Chicken Cutlets: three (3) chicken cutlets, S&P for seasoning 
    • If vegetarian or vegan: sub chicken for one (1) can of chickpeas
  • For Serving: freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
    • If vegetarian or vegan: sub Parmesan for nutritional yeast

Directions:

  • Sautéing the Spinach : In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium then stir in the minced garlic until it becomes fragrant and slightly browned (1-2 minutes); mix in the three (3) cups of spinach and mix it around until it is all wilted; place in a large mixing/serving bowl.
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes: Open the jar and remove the tomatoes from the oil (you can save the oil if you want for a dressing on the chicken); chop to your liking and place in that same mixing/serving bowl as the spinach.
  • Chicken Cutlets: Season both sides of the cutlets with S&P, then place on a medium-hot grill/griddle until cooked through (2-3 minutes per side).
  • Pasta: If you are using fresh pasta, be sure to ask your local pasta maker for the correct timing for the pasta you purchase, as fresh pasta cooks much more quickly than boxed pasta. If you're not using fresh pasta, just follow the directions on the box ;) Also, as stated above, make sure you season your pasta water when it’s at a boil. We use Morton’s Kosher Salt.
  • Serving: In that large mixing/serving bowl, you now have sautéed spinach, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, pasta, and the most important ingredient of all: the WHOLE jar of Spicy Vegan Pesto. Go ahead and mix it all together. Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese on top, place the sliced chicken cutlet on the side, and you are ready to enjoy a quick & easy pasta dish that you will make every week!

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