Chicken, Broccolini and Pesto Pasta Salad


As you may have noticed, I’ve been working like a looney to try and catch up with this blog. This recipe marks the last one on the to-do list, and it’s a corker!

I was daydreaming one day, when I thought up this incredibly delicious creation.

Many of you will know that I like to make dishes that most people would find challenging, such as croissants, Danish pastries and crusty bread etc.  The problem with this is that there are often dishes that are super-easy to make, which I love, but have never made. This includes pesto. I always knew how to make pesto, but never got around to making it. Maybe it was the cost of the ingredients? Maybe I knew it didn’t have a long shelf life. I don’t know why…

Anyhow, I wanted to make my own pesto for this dish, and boy was I glad I did. It was wonderful. Fresh pesto is nothing compared to shop (store)-bought. I didn’t make the traditional pesto with pine nuts because of the current situation with pine mouth or pine nut syndrome. I have no idea what happened to the world where we could eat any food, which was always safe, and not genetically modified… I used toasted walnuts instead.

The combination of al-dente pasta, chicken, baby plum (grape) tomatoes, broccolini and pesto will make your taste buds sing with delight.  You can enjoy this dish hot or cold. It’ll be perfect for summer barbecues, picnics or even packed lunches. We simply enjoyed it for dinner.


CHICKEN, BROCCOLINI AND PESTO PASTA SALAD

Serves 2-3


Ingredients

For the pesto

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) fresh basil leaves
  • 50 g (scant ⅓ c) freshly grated Parmiagiano Reggiano
  • 35 g (⅓ c) toasted walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more if you prefer your pesto runnier
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the pasta

  • 180 g (6.3 oz) pasta
  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, excess fat removed
  • 450 g (1 lb or 16 oz, about 2 bunches) broccolini, cut into 3.75 cm (1 ½ inch) pieces
  • 300 g (⅔ lb or 10.5 oz) baby plum (grape) tomatoes, sliced in half


Method

1. Blanch the broccolini in a large pan of lightly salted water for 2-3 minutes. Scoop the broccolini out into a colander set over the sink, then cool under a cold running tap. Allow to drain.

2. Put the pan of lightly salted water back on the hob (stove) to boil. Add the chicken thighs, and poach for about 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Scoop out the chicken with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Once cool, cut into chunks.

3. Add the pasta to the same pot of boiling water. Cook as per packet’s instructions. Drain (and cool under a cold running tap, if you want to enjoy this dish cold).

4. In a large salad bowl, toss the hot pasta with the homemade pesto until evenly coated.

5. Toss in the remaining ingredients – broccolini, baby plum (grape) tomatoes and chicken.

6. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if required, then serve and enjoy!

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