Welcome to the first Kosher on a Budget Recipe Exchange. Yay, I am so excited! Today’s exchange is all about the main course for Shabbat, chag or even that special meal during the week. I can’t wait to check out the recipe to one of your favorite meat or pareve entrees, so please don’t leave me hanging!
To get this party started, I wanted to share with you one of my new favorite lunch recipes: Chicken Pesto Pasta. Perfect for a hot summer day, the recipe can be served hot, cold or room temperature. It combines some fresh-from-our-garden basil with bowtie pasta, which ensures that all the kids in my house will eat it!
One quartered and grilled whole chicken (or you could do 6-8 pieces of thighs or breasts) – leave the skin on and baste with margarine, salt and dried herbs during cooking
3/4 c walnuts or pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
3 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and loosely packed
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 -lb bowtie pasta (you can substitute your favorite shape, but I like the way bowties hold on to the pesto sauce)
Toast pine nuts or walnuts in a sauce pan on medium heat. Watch them carefully, as nuts are slow to toast and quick to burn. Remove from heat and cool.
Meanwhile, use a food processor to chop the garlic, then add nuts and pulse to blend. Add a handful of basil at a time and scrape down the bowl as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and continue to scrape down the sides until fully blended.
Now turn your attention to the chicken and slice it into 1-inch wide strips. Cook the pasta al dente, then drain it and reserve a cup of the cooking water.
Mix hot pasta with pesto and a few tablespoons of the water. Add more water as necessary to evenly distribute the pesto. Mound into a large serving bowl. Top with chicken strips and sprinkle with fresh sprigs of basil.
If you want to serve this for Shabbat lunch, refrigerate the pasta separately from the chicken strips. Bring them each to room temperature a few hours before lunch will be served. You may need to add a few tablespoons of oil to the pasta and toss it in order to loosen up the pesto. The grilled chicken strips can be heated on the hot plate, or the whole thing can be served room temperature.
Notes on Cost: Buying fresh basil at the super market is costly, but growing your own at home is simple and frugal. Whether you plant it in the ground, or grow it in a pot on a balcony, basil grows plentifully with enough water and sunlight. Be sure to pinch back the plant as it grows, so that your basil doesn’t flower too soon. I usually cut off 3 or 4 cups worth at a time and mix up a batch of pesto every couple of weeks. Pesto freezes well, although it does lose some of its green vibrancy. Buy your pasta on sale and with coupons for less than $1 box, and stock up on whole chickens at Costco or on sale at your grocery store.