Italian Stir fry - pesto
1 Wok (or very deep frying pan)
3/4 lbs. Chicken
1/3 lbs. Panchetta
8-12 ounces of Penne pasta
1 Red pepper
1 Green Pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
3 tablespoons of pine nuts
3/4 cup fresh basil
10 teaspoons olive oil
This recipe is great for entertaining, and also makes an excellent lunch dish. It is light and healthy, with very little fat and lots of delicious and nutritious veggies and chicken. It's sophisticated yet simple. You will enjoy making this dish (and you'll certainly enjoy eating it too!)
There are two options for the chicken. You can grill it or bake it. I prefer grilling but the weather is not always permitting. In either case wrap the chicken in aluminum foil and let it bake or grill for about 25-30 minutes at around 500 degrees (for the grill) or 450 (for the oven.) The chicken should be internally heated to at least 160 degrees.
At about the same time as you start the chicken begin boiling water for the pasta. I recommend going on the lighter side with the pasta so the dish doesn't become to heavy. However, this is up to the individual chef. With more pasta it does become a heartier dish, even a dinner entree'.
Now it's time to make the pesto! In a food processor or blender combine the basil (this should be finely chopped) Parmesan, Romano, pine nuts and 6 teaspoons of olive oil, and a bit of salt, maybe one or two pinches, but not very much. Blend until a smooth creamy mixture forms. This particular pesto recipe may be a bit clumpy at this point, but when we heat it up with the veggies and (more) olive oil it will smooth out. I promise ;)
Now this recipe gets easier! Chop the tomato, onion, red pepper, and green pepper into strips about a 1/2 inch to an inch long. Baste the Wok (or frying an) with enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan, about 1 tablespoon. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on just slightly. Use your stoves lowest setting, we are just trying to heat the veggies up right now, not cook them. Add the onion first and let it heat slightly in the olive oil, then add the tomato, green pepper and red pepper as well. Allow this mixture to keep warming.
Next, cut the panchetta into about two-inch strips. Fry this in a separate frying pan (should only take a couple minutes) and then add it piece by piece with a fork. Do not dump the panchetta in, as you will also be pouring a LOT of grease into this healthy dish. The purpose of the panchetta is to add some flavor to the dish, not make it greasy.
By the time you have done all this the chicken and pasta should be done. Drain the pasta and cover, for now. Cut the chicken into strips about two-inches long. Once all the chicken is cut, add it to the wok.
Now add the pasta to the wok. Add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the top of the dish. Turn the heat up to medium heat and continually toss the dish with a wooden spoon or fork for about ten minutes or so. Try and stir the middle of the dish continually up and around, since woks have the most heat at the bottom. This will heat the dish most evenly. Now the pesto should become smooth and very creamy. As the dish heats, add salt and pepper to your personal taste.