Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Penne Pasta Entrée with Cilantro Parsley Pesto
What's for Supper Tonight?
This is a daily question and concern for most of us. A bit of forethought must go into the planning especially if thawing things from one's freezer and wishing to utilize that ingredient later in the day.
Even if stopping by a grocery store on the way home to pick up last minute items, a plan for using them is well advised. Otherwise, if tired and hungry after a day's work, one is more likely to be tempted to grab a quick meal at the drive through fast food establishment or go out to eat.
As we all know this is probably not the greatest of options for two reasons. Less nutritious and higher calorie food is often served at the fast food emporiums with a few exceptions. And frequent dining out at restaurants takes a toll on our monthly budgets.
Let me show you an easy to prepare quick dinner option that does not take long to prepare and is delicious, nutritious and easy on the budget. This chicken pasta entrée with loads of fresh vegetables paired with a leafy green salad will be sure to please your family members and/or friends that may be stopping by to join you for your nightly meal.
How To Make Cilantro Parsley Pesto
I made the pesto and the pasta dish at the same time but this pesto recipe could easily be made up ahead of time. Pesto can be created from many different ingredients. Most often basil is used along with EVOO, garlic, Parmesan Reggiano cheese, pine nuts or other nuts and seasonings.
For this recipe I filled the Cuisinart mixing bowl with the following:
- 2 large bunches of cilantro
- 1 large bunch of parsley
- 3 cloves peeled garlic
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes for some extra spiciness and flavor.
When I make homemade pesto I put what remains after use into small containers with a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and then freeze them. Pesto also keeps well in the refrigerator for a long time and retains its color if kept topped with a little extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
Giada de Laurentiis (one of the celebrity chefs on television) puts her pesto in ice cube trays, When frozen she puts them into freezer bags pulling out only however many cubes she thinks she will need for recipes. I have yet to try that but think that it is a good idea.
Cilantro Parsley Pesto
All the fresh herbs did not fit into the bowl at first so I just processed it a bit and kept adding more as can be seen in the photos above.
I gave it all a whirl in the food processor and lo and behold I had freshly made pesto!
Ready To Cook?
Let's get started! I would suggest making up your pesto first as I did. If you do not have the time or inclination to make your own homemade pesto, just purchase some ready made pesto at the grocery store. The flavor will be different but equally good.
Ingredients for the Chicken Penne Pasta with Fresh Vegetables (not including the pesto, as those ingredients are listed above.)
- 1 package Penne Pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 medium Onion, sliced
- 8 Mini Peppers, slivered
- 2 medium Zucchini, sliced in half then cut into pieces...half moon shaped
- 4 small raw Chicken Fillets, cubed
- 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces Fresh mushrooms, sliced
- Parmesan Regianno cheese, to taste
- Garlic powder or fresh minced, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Hot pepper flakes (optional), to taste
- 3 tablespoons prepared Pesto, or to taste
Preparation of this Chicken Penne Pasta dish with VegetablesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Instructions To Make This Pasta Recipe
- Cook your pasta according to package directions keeping it al dente, or slightly undercooked as it will finish cooking in the pan with the rest of the ingredients. Al dente means "to the tooth" which means it is still a bit firm. Drain the pasta saving some of the pasta water for later use, if needed.
- Slice your vegetables according to directions.
- Wash and pat dry your chicken fillets and cut into cubes.
- Start by adding the extra virgin olive oil into the pan and when heated add your sliced onions.
- After a minute or two of stirring, add the sliced peppers, followed by the zucchini and mushrooms.
- Season to taste and cook until the vegetables have all wilted and softened but still retain some of their bright colors.
- Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.
- Add the diced chicken into the same pan adding a bit more of the oil if needed and sauté until just done. Season at this stage also.
- Add the vegetables back into the pan with the chicken and stir.
- Add the cooked pasta and some of the Parmesan cheese. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings. If the pasta dish needs a bit more moisture, add some of the reserved pasta water into the pan a little at a time and combine with all of the ingredients.
- Add a few dollops of the fresh pesto. I probably used about 3 tablespoons or so. Use according to your own preference.
- When this is nicely mixed and to your liking, serve on heated plates and garnish with a little extra Parmesan Regianno cheese over the top, if desired. Enjoy!
Completed Chicken Penne Pasta dish with vegetables ready to be served!
Cook Time including making the Pesto and boiling the water to cook the Pasta
Chicken Penne Pasta Entrée with Vegetables & Cilantro Parsley Pesto
Please rate me!
Like Vegetarian Dishes Instead?
Note: This can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the chicken and skipping that part of the preparation directions.
See how easy it is to come up with good tasting and delicious meals in an hour or less of preparation and cooking time? With ready made pesto or homemade pesto made ahead of time, the timing of this pasta dish is shaved down to almost half.
No excuses now! Start cooking and enjoy the "oohs and aahs" that come from the people seated at your dinner table. Bon Appetit!
Do you think that you will be making this dish?
© 2012 Peggy Woods