Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Veggies
I've been reading food blogs for some time now, and I've been so impressed and inspired by what I see on them. There are tons of super-talented people out there doing awesome things with food. I see all these fabulous dishes and desserts that people just put together with what they have on hand, and I wonder, "Could I do that? I'm not sure I can." For most things I make, I sort of follow a recipe. I usually don't pay a lot of attention to quantities of ingredients, but I'm pretty reliant on recipes to help me put something together. This weekend, I decided that I was going to go out on a limb and create my very own dish from my own imagination! NO RECIPES ALLOWED! I've got to admit, it took me all weekend to mull it over in my head to decide exactly how I would approach it. I found that it came to me in little pieces at a time. First, I decided that I wanted some pasta, mostly because it seems like I haven't had pasta in awhile. Of course, I knew grilled chicken would be involved, because I always have chicken. I also realized that I still had a package of Chet's homemade pesto in my freezer, so I started craving that. But what could I do to make it special? Well...we've still got asparagus from Mama's garden, so I thought I should include it. From there, I just started thinking about things that might taste good together. Here's what I came up with:
we've got the whole-wheat pasta, the super-yummy pesto, a jar of roasted red peppers, Paula Deen's house seasoning, some sliced baby portobello mushrooms, some freshly cut asparagus, and garlic. I also added some chopped red onion, but I forgot to get it in the picture. Sorry!
I also apologize that there are no process pictures, because I can't get any decent light in my kitchen. I don't even try to get pictures in the kitchen anymore. It's useless. They turn out all yellow and muddy-looking. But here are some pictures of the finished product:
I warned David before we sat down to eat. He was fully aware that this was created from my imagination and no recipe was followed, so I couldn't make any guarantees that it would be edible! I was very pleasantly surprised! I thought it tasted great! It was just very fresh and spring-like. I think pesto smells like spring, anyway. I think David liked it, but I'm not sure. He ate several bites before he said anything. He's kind of hard to read. He said he liked it, so I'll have to trust him on it. I really enjoyed it, and will definitely make it again. I'm so proud of myself!

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Veggies
Erin Orr's first original recipe!
9 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
20 oz. chicken breasts
Paula Deen's House Seasoning
8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
fresh asparagus, cut into 2" pieces
1 jar roasted red peppers in olive oil
red onion, chopped
fresh garlic, minced
8 0z (or more) pesto
Cook whole wheat pasta to al dente. Keep warm.
Season the chicken breasts with Paula Deen's House Seasoning. Grill and keep warm.
Heat a tablespoon or so of the olive oil (from the red peppers) in a non-stick skillet. Add onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms begin to brown. You may need to add some more olive oil. Add the asparagus and continue to saute. Once they are crisp-tender, add the roasted red peppers and heat through. Once everything is warm, drain any accumulated liquids.
In a large bowl, combine the warm pasta and grilled chicken. Add the sauteed vegetables. Pour the pest over the pasta, chicken and veggies. You don't need to warm the pesto, because the heat from your other ingredients will take care of it. Toss to combine and coat all the ingredients with the pesto.
Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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