Chicken Dinners: Chicken with Spinach Tagliatelle and Parsley Pesto

St. Patrick's Day green. . Yvonne Ruperti

My mom always kept a bag of spinach noodles on hand. Spinach pasta is mild tasting, really, and though she only served it with butter (butter, salt, and pepper were the main flavors in my house), I considered it a special treat to eat a fun colored pasta. I haven't cooked with it in years, but after noticing it at the market recently I knew I had to work it into a green-themed St. Patrick's Day chicken dish.

I thought of making a spinach pesto, but spinach isn't flavorful like the classic pesto herbs, so I went with a robust parsley, thickened with pine nuts and Parmesan. I still wanted to get more spinach in the dish, so I tossed in a handful of baby spinach while mixing the pesto into the hot pasta. By the time the pesto was combined, the spinach had wilted perfectly.

I think it can be tough to try to work chicken into a pasta dish, especially when it's mild-tasting chicken breast. You want to make sure that it's good and moist, as well as flavorful enough so that it doesn't seem like you're just throwing the chicken in as an afterthought. To keep it moist, I brined it first, then cooked it up on my handy grill pan. Slicing the breasts to equal thickness is a must, so that they cook evenly, and take the temperature so that you don't overcook them. I didn't bother with a marinade, but I cooked and sliced the chicken just prior to cooking the pasta, so that the moist pieces would soak up every bit of the flavorful pesto. This green dish is fun to eat and you'll get your veggies in, too.