Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mint and Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta

 Perfect Pairing:  The best Pandora station for cooking, dining, and chilling 

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One of my favorite summer shows is So You Think You Can Dance.  I don’t think I have missed an episode in 11 seasons.  Granted, I probably fast forward through 50% of it (the judges), but I don’t miss a dance.  I even watch my favorites a few times before it is deleted from my DVR.  I used to find a lot of new music on the show, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in recent years for some reason.  There are only a couple songs on repeat on my phone from this season, Like Real People Do by Hozier and Valerie by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse

Valerie is not a new song, but I had a renewed love for it when I heard it on the show.  It put me in the mood for Amy Winehouse so I tried out her Pandora station.  I was obsessed.  It is a great mix of Amy, Adele, Ray Charles, Norah Jones, Temptations, Ben E. King and many others.  It is just the ticket for cooking, eating, and just hanging out with friends because it is upbeat but not exhausting.  It is my new go-to.


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Want to try out that new station while cooking?  Make Mint and Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta!  You won’t be sorry.  It is super fresh and a nice change from standard pesto.  It is also a great dish to make if you have a thriving mint plant.


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The pesto is a mix of fresh mint and spinach (you could also use a mix of spinach and arugula), fresh parmesan, and pine nuts.  The pesto is tossed with pasta and sweet peas and then topped with grilled chicken.  Simple and delicious.





Mint and Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta

Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing



Ingredients:
  • 1.25 lb (about 3) chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Italian seasoning (optional)
  • 1 lb farfalle/bowtie pasta
  • 1 cup mint leaves (lightly packed)
  • 2 cups spinach or spinach/arugula mix (lightly packed)
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan (lightly packed)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 12 oz sweet peas (defrosted)


Directions:

Preheat the grill to medium high heat.  Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  If using, sprinkle Italian seasoning on both sides of the chicken.  Grill until lightly charred and cooked through (160 degrees F), about 5-7 minutes on each side.  Set aside to cool slightly, then slice into strips.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water.  Drain and return to pot.

While the chicken and pasta are cooking, prepare the pesto.  In the bowl of a food processor combine the mint, spinach (or spinach and arugula mix).  Pulse a few times to chop.  Add in the pine nuts, parmesan, garlic cloves, salt and pepper.  Pulse again for a few rounds.  Turn on the processor and slowly pour in the olive oil until it forms a pesto, scraping down the sides if necessary.


Pour the pesto over the warm pasta and add in the defrosted peas.  Stir gently to distribute the pesto.  Add a little cooking water if necessary to coat the pasta.  Serve with grilled chicken.  Serves about 6.

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