Convenience at Its Best: Pesto Paste
So I know it’s the middle of summer and I’m supposed to be going on and on about the multitudes of basil my plants are producing and how I just cannot make enough pesto to keep up! The truth is, I wish I could be that person. But alas, my wee basil plant is recovering from the last major harvest, leaving me waiting patiently for my next opportunity.
I actually had every intention of making some homemade pesto last week, but had made the mistake of clipping off the basil from the plant too early, leaving me with wilted, brown leaves. Yuck. Of course at this point I was already craving the salty zing of pesto, so I moved on to Plan B: pesto paste.
Now I have a take a second here to talk about grocery shopping and convenience. There are many modern conveniences I scoff at when I’m grocery shopping, namely: pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in individually packaged cellophane pouches, most microwave dinners and pour-able pancake batter. But when I come across something that saves me time and money, it’s worth a second look. First, I found tomato paste in a tube, which is pure genius! Up until that point, I ended up wasted three quarters of every can of unused tomato paste, but now I can just re-screw the top and put back in the refrigerator for next time! Then recently, I found pesto paste – a concentrated pesto that comes in a resealable tube so nothing gets wasted.
Thus, when my homemade pesto plan was foiled, my pesto paste was the perfect backup. Two tablespoons of that concentrated green gold and my bucatini pasta was alive with flavor! This time, I added shredded chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan. Light, simple and bursting with pesto-ey goodness. I really liked the chicken shredded because it became part of the sauce instead of just big lumps in the pasta. R had this for leftover the next day too and said it got even better!
1 box penne pasta or any small shape
3-4 Tbs. pesto
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 C. grated parmesan
1/4 C. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 C. pasta water
Small bunch basil, chopped
Put pasta water up to boil with some salt to flavor the water. Cook pasta according to box instructions. Be sure to reserve 1/4 C. pasta water before draining the noodles.
While the pasta cooks, in a small fry pan, heat olive oil and cook chicken breast until cooked through. You may also choose to use leftover cooked chicken instead.
When pasta is ready, combine all ingredients and stir well.