Friday, September 17, 2010

Pesto Please

I love cooking easy weeknight dishes where I can get all the components of a meal into one dish.  Having pesto on my mind from Herb Envy, I decided to make a pasta with chicken, string beans and fresh pesto.  The crisp bites of the green beans complement the al dente pasta and fresh herb flavors.  The chicken adds protein and the vibrant green color of the pesto is very appealing.  Pesto has a wonderful ability to make a dish light from the refreshing basil essence while also maintaining a savory element from the oil and cheese.  It's very satisfying and there is nothing better than making fresh pesto and cooking with it right away- amazing.

I used filei pasta because it is more like macaroni and holds the pesto better than other types of pasta.  Plus its an interesting shape and really fun to eat!  If you can't find filei, trofie or rigatoni also work well.

Filei with Chicken, String Beans and Pesto
Makes about 5 servings

3 cups Filei
2 Chicken breasts, cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 pound fresh string beans, cleaned and chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Olive Oil
1/2 cup Fresh Homemade Pesto (checkout my homemade nut-free pesto)
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grate to finish

Heat a pan to medium and drizzle olive oil.  Add garlic and saute.  Add chicken and cook until almost done.  Then add string beans and saute for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the pesto and mix well and allow the ingredients to finish cooking.

At the same time bring a pot of water to a roaring boil.  Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the pasta and allow it to cook for 4-5 minutes.  The pasta should be al dente, it should be firm but not too crunchy.  Remove it from the stove and drain.

Add the pasta to the pan and mix with the chicken, string beans and pesto.  Finish with a sprinkle of parmigiano reggiano cheese.  Serve and enjoy :)

What makes this bite better?
When people are on a diet the first thing to go is usually fat.  While fat is the least needed macronutrient, it is still important for maintaining optimal health.  Fats are required by the body for cell growth, function and repair.  They also help regulate blood pressure and provide a significant calorie source.  Fats provide 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.  This is why adding some fat to your meals will help keep you fuller longer.  The best source of fat is from an unsaturated fat source such as oil or fish.  In this recipe olive oil serves as the fat source, providing the essential fatty acids that the body requires in addition to many other health benefits.  Don't go overboard, but don't be so quick to cut healthy fats from a dish.

Source: Wardlaw G. and Smith, A.  Contemporary Nutrition.  6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2006.  164-165.

1 comment:

  1. I made this pasta last night and it was delicious! I love how the shape of the pasta really holds the flavor =) very yummy xo