Warm Chicken & Pesto Pasta

I love making Pesto pasta. Its just so quick & easy, & my kids love eating it too… Always a bonus for a tired mom. But on these cold wintery evenings I want something warm & comforting, so here’s my go-to warm chicken & pesto pasta recipe…

I just cook up 1/2 a bag of pasta (250g), that usually makes enough for the 4 of us for dinner, & then for the 3 of us girls to have as smaller portions with fruit or veg, for lunch the next day.

Warm Chicken & Pesto Pasta
1/2 bag of dry pasta -250g
1 – 2 cooked chicken breasts (leftover roast works great!)
Either 125g of pesto or home made pesto… See bellow
3 – 4 handfuls of baby spinach
A little grape seed oil (to loosen spinach & pesto mixture if needed)
Cashew nuts to taste (I like about 1 handful)
Feta (about 1 round or 1 sealed block)

Cook Pasta while heating chicken & blending spinach into the pesto.
Drain the pasta & stir through the chicken.
Add the nuts for the last few seconds of blending, or stir in crushed nuts.
Stir pesto into the pasta, and crumble (or cube) feta into the mixture.
Serve warm in winter, or cold in summer.

Easy Cheats Pesto
1/2 fill blender with basil, or basil & other leafy herbs and/or salad veg that go well with basil
Pour in grape seed oil to cover the blades
Grate in 1-2 garlic cloves (more if preferred)
Squeeze in 1/4 – 1/3 of a lemon
And blend till fairly smooth.
Add any chosen nuts (cashews & pecans work well, peanuts are usually cheeper… Play around with it)
Blend till the nuts are just crushed & mixed through.
Lastly stir in either crumbed feta, or grated hard cheese. The harder and more flavourfull the cheese, the more traditional, but the more natural MSG.

-My family & I actually prefer the texture & flavor achieved with feta and a variety of greens and nuts.
-Some of the oil can be replaced by a little water or good quality stock, but it will give a more creamy look and texture. I often use rich chicken stock when I am short on the actual chicken, this way enhancing the chicken flavor and getting some of the goodness from the chicken juices (but I only use stock made from actual chicken for this).
-Other meat can be used too. Left over roast venison is great this way when there is not quite enough left to use as is.

For the gardeners:
When planting basil in your garden in preparation for this recipe, bare in mind two important factors. Plant lifespan; and resistance to weather & pests. Most basil plants only last a year, while some can last much longer. Most nursery plants tend also to be very fragile in my experience. My plants all come from a few cuttings someone gave me years ago. Every year they multiply so profusely that I have supplied quite a few. The more I ‘prune’ them, the happier they are, and if I’m sick in bed and unable to water them for weeks during a dry spell, the leaves get smaller & eventually look like dried origanum, but revive quickly with just a few days of watering and pampering. They are a wilder strain of basil, with smaller leaves, but definately more suitable to my garden. I have never needed to spray them for pests, except with the occasional bit of soapy water when they have been severely neglected.

Variation:

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