Make use of prepared pesto and a jar of roasted red peppers to create a flavor-packed sauce for this rustic chicken pasta dish.
I’m back with the latest in a series of recipes that have happened in my kitchen over the past week that all have one thing in common – pesto. I’ve taken on the challenge to use up a Costco sized container of pesto I found tucked in the back of my refrigerator as the clock ticks down towards the expiration date. It’s not such a bad thing to find hidden – or as I like to call it – bonus pesto in your fridge. There are just so many things you can do with it; so many directions to go.
I was up for the challenge!
First, I whipped up this creamy, delicious Pesto Chicken Salad. After that was devoured we were ready for more.
Pasta paired with pesto was destined.
A jar of roasted red peppers combines beautifully with pesto to create a simple but super flavorful sauce for this pasta dish. To soften the and add some nice texture to the sauce, I added a touch of half-and-half and spoonfuls of ricotta cheese over the top. Heavenly.
The ricotta is added last and melts slightly over the finished dish. You can scoop up a little ricotta (or a lot!) in each serving.
Let’s do this!
You can use any variety of roasted red peppers you can get your hands on. I found this fire roasted variety at my local Safeway. Roasted red peppers are packed in water, not oil, so they’ll be adding great color and flavor to the dish without any added fat.
Chopped boneless, skinless chicken breast and minced garlic get a quick saute in olive oil. While it’s cookin’ season it with a some crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. There is so much flavor in the sauce that the chicken doesn’t need a lot at this point.
Add the drained and chopped roasted red peppers and continue to cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through.
In goes a little bit of half-and-half.
Stir all that goodness together.
Add some cooked penne and mix it well to coat the pasta with sauce.
Sprinkle on some shaved or grated Parmesan and then drop small spoonfuls of ricotta over the surface of the pasta. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the ricotta to soften. When it is slightly melting into the pasta you are ready to serve.
Ricotta melting over a skillet full of pasta is a beautiful thing.
And, that my friends, is all there is to it!
Thankfully, Boy #4 came home from college for a long weekend visit just in time to take care of the leftovers for me. I love having young guys around to consume food before I can get my hands on it.
Who says having kids is bad for your figure? It has turned out to be the best diet tip ever!
Chicken Pesto Penne with Roasted Red Peppers and Ricotta
- 2-1/2 cups dry penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 9 ounce jar chopped roasted red peppers (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese plus additional for garnish
- Cook penne about one minute shy of the package directions.
- Meanwhile, cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Heat olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic and saute for several minutes, until chicken is just lightly golden brown. Season with crushed red pepper, salt, and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Add chopped roasted red peppers and cook, stirring, for another minute or two or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Reduce heat to medium and add half-and-half and pesto and stir well to incorporate into the chicken mixture.
- Add cooked and drained pasta to the chicken mixture, stirring to combine. Drop small spoonfuls of the ricotta over the pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover skillet and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, until ricotta is softened and melting into the pasta.
- Serve with additional Parmesan for garnish.