The magic of Italian food is often the simplicity of the ingredients and the preparation. This chicken penne with a semi-homemade pesto cream sauce combination is no exception.
With almost no prep time, this can be a great recipe for those days in the week where 5:30 rolls around and you find yourself without anything prepped… in just a few minutes you can have the sauce on its way to topping your favorite pasta!
The “undisputed king of cheeses” (hello Mario Batali!) parmesan reggiano melts into the butter and cream resulting in a wonderful thick sauce. and with the hint of heat from the crushed red pepper flakes (if you like it hot, you can always add more!) This spiciness is tempered with the cool acidic flavor of the diced tomatoes, and the warm sliced chicken.
While this preparation uses penne pasta, this sauce is can be made thick enough (by not adding any pasta water) to coat nearly any pasta variety and would also be fantastic with seafood, spicy shrimp pasta anyone?
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 2 lbs. chicken breast
- ½ cup of prepared pesto
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons of chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- Olive oil
- Salt, pepper and garlic powder (seasoning the uncooked chicken)
- 1 tomato de-seeded and diced.
- In a saute pan over medium heat spray the bottom of the pan to keep the chicken from sticking, season both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Cook chicken until done, set aside and allow to rest.
- Meanwhile prepare penne pasta according to instructions on box, cooking one minute less for more al dente, reserve a small portion of pasta water.
- For the sauce heat the heavy cream over medium heat until warmed, add butter and chicken stock.
- Once the butter has melted add the prepared pesto, lemon zest, red pepper flakes to the pan and lower the temperature.
- Add the parmesan cheese reserving a portion for garnish.
- Combine pesto cream sauce with penne adding small amounts of pasta water if you need to loosen the sauce.
- Once combined slice chicken on the bias and top the pasta.
- Add freshly diced tomatoes and reserved parmesan cheese.