After years of experimenting with pesto, I've learned to use all sorts of ingredients for fun flavor combinations. The greens can be anything from arugula to spinach, and you can change up the nuts to use whatever's in your pantry. Here, I've combined spinach with pistachios and heady pecorino cheese, making a delightfully savory topping for chicken and pasta. This simple Italian dish is satisfying and comforting, and still only takes 20 minutes to make. Not too shabby!
About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.
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- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 2 cups packed spinach leaves, stems removed
- 1/3 cup pistachios
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 medium clove garlic, coarsely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 pound chicken breast, chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups cooked spiral pasta
Add spinach, pistachios, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the spinach is roughly chopped, about 8 short pulses. Add cheese and continue pulsing until roughly chopped (you can hop more or less to taste), drizzling a little extra olive oil if pesto is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Season chicken cubes with salt and pepper. Heat butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until foaming subsides. Add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until barely cooked through (check by cutting open a cube, it should be opaque all the way through), about 8 minutes.
Fill four bowls with an equal amount of cooked spiral pasta, then divide the chicken evenly between each bowl. Drop a generous dollop of pesto into each bowl and serve immediately.