The other night I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what to make for dinner. After working all day coming up with new specials weekly and answering culinary question to every employee, it becomes tough to decide what to eat. Yes I can just open up my leather bound book and pick any recipe like my Orange Cointreau Duck Sauce, or my Creamy Béarnaise Sauce; but those require money which I did not have at that moment. Whether you make great money or mediocre money, there are those days which you will have none. That was last Sunday for me. So then I had to open the pantry and see what I could use for dinner that night. The first thing I saw was some garlic, milk, flour, sugar, linguini, and to my surprise a small jar of premade basil pesto. Now I am a complete fan of fresh pesto made with pine nuts, fresh basil, olive oil and some other ingredients but has anyone seen the price of pine nuts out there? Ridiculous. So right now jarred is the way to go. I had this left over from what I made for a family picnic on the fourth and of course it was still good. I also had some left over grilled chicken from barbequing Saturday night. First thing popped in my head was Chicken Pesto Pasta. This is one of those rainy day recipes I put in my book a few years back. It’s for the day with no money and just some tasty leftovers.
Ingredients Feeds Two:
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
2 tsp White Flour
½ Cup Milk
½ Cup Canned Basil Pesto
1lb of Pasta (any noodle you prefer, in this case I used linguini)
I am a firm believer that you should first cook your pasta when making dinner at home. Most of the time you will find yourself waiting for the water to boil far after you are done cooking the rest of the dish. The good thing is you will be tossing your pasta in your sauce so it will have time to reheat. Just throw a little canola oil and a dash of salt to your water while it is boiling. Once it boils toss your pasta in for 8 minutes exactly. Some homemade pasta is different so follow your instructions on that. Once pasta is started you can start your sauce.
Start by putting your butter and garlic in a skillet and cook the garlic on medium until slightly translucent, not browned. Then add the flour lightly, a little at a time and mix thoroughly. You don’t want to taste chunks of flour in your pasta. This is called a light roux and will thicken your cream based sauce nicely. Once this is mixed allow to cook for about two minutes.
Then add your milk. If you only have heavy cream then just skip the flour. Keep whisking your sauce thoroughly. Once the mixture thickens slightly then you can add your pesto sauce. Be careful during this process. If you allow the mixture to cook at too high of heat, the sauce will be more of a paste and far too strong. This should only take about four minutes. If your pasta timer goes off during the time you’re making the sauce, remove from heat, drain, and if your sauce is almost ready just let it sit. If it is going to take a while, I recommend ice bathing the pasta to retain the al dente texture. If you come from an Italian family, or live with an Italian woman like I do, don’t ever over cook that pasta. I did it once 3 years ago and I am still warned every time I cook it.
If you have the leftover chicken like I did either heat it with the sauce once you add the premade pesto, or reheat in the over. You want the reheated chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the chicken has reached temperature, add your pasta and toss. Voila done.
I spiced up my dinner a bit and made breadsticks brushed with garlic and parmesan. It was just a no yeast recipe I wrote from a cooking class teaching job a few years ago. It only takes a few minutes and I think it added that beautiful touch to my dish.