Ok, this was an easy dinner. I have had a bunch of baby spinach in my fridge that needed to be used. I also bought some gluten free spaghetti noodles yesterday so I knew we were having pasta for dinner. I started thinking about a pesto sauce and decided to try my hand at making one up using the spinach I had. I retrieved my food processor and started dumping things in, but thankfully measuring as I did it. A little minced garlic, juice from a lemon, parmesan cheese, olive oil, dried basil, and the star of the show, fresh spinach. At the end I remembered that most pestos have pine nuts in them. I didn’t have pine nuts. But I did have some roasted almonds so, in they went! I pureed it all up and tada! It was amazing! I mean, really really good. I’m sure most of you have probably made pesto but I haven’t so I was pretty pleased with a success on my first attempt. And, the most exciting part to me was that it was packed with nutrients from the spinach.
We have a weekly Bible study on Sunday nights and we are always starving when we get home at 7:30. I decided to simplify this dinner by picking up a rotisserie chicken on the way home. I then steamed some broccoli florets in the microwave, cubed up the chicken breasts, diced up a roasted red pepper that I had in the fridge and cooked the pasta. Then it was just a matter of tossing it all together and coating everything with the spinach pesto.
Joab LOVED it. I did too. And yes, so did the munchkins. Success all around. I hope you will try this for one of your dinners this week. I am so glad their are leftovers because I am one of those weird people that like to eat leftovers for breakfast the next day. I know, I’m strange. I’m ok with it. 🙂
Pasta with Spinach Pesto, Broccoli, and Chicken (Gluten Free)
12 oz Tinkyada Brown Rice Spaghetti noodles (If you don’t need GF, just use whatever spaghetti noodles you like)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 roasted red pepper, diced (I just had a small jar of them and used about half the jar) (If you don’t have roasted red peppers, just dice up a fresh one and saute it in a pan until it is a little soft)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I used the breasts off a rotisseri chicken that I picked up at the grocery, but feel free to cook your chicken on the stove or in the oven)
4 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup toasted nuts (I used almonds, but you can use pine nuts, hazelnuts, or probably even another kind)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Make sure not to overcook. Drain.
Steam your broccoli in the microwave or your steamer. I like the microwave because it is fast and easy. I just put my broccoli florets in a microwaveable bowl, add a few tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap or even a large plate, and cook on high for about 3 minutes. I like my broccoli with a little crunch to it so if you like yours very soft you will need to cook it a bit longer. Drain the broccoli and toss into a large bowl. Toss cubed chicken and diced red pepper into bowl with the broccoli.
While pasta is cooking, add all the ingredients for the pesto into your food processor and process until smooth. Salt to taste. I will say that I think it still would have been great if I had left the nuts out. So, if you find yourself without some toasted nuts, don’t despair. Make it anyway. There are still so many other good flavors!
Now, all you have to do is throw the pasta and pesto into the bowl with your chicken, broccoli, and red pepper and toss it all together so that everything is coated nicely with the pesto.
At this point, I serve it up in individual bowls and add a dash of cayenne pepper to the bowls for me and my husband. We like everything a little spicy. 🙂
Hope you enjoy this tasty, healthy dinner with your family sometime soon! And I would love to hear your feedback and if you made any successful alterations.
PS. I think this would also be delicious with shrimp instead of chicken!