Pesto with Penne, Roasted Asparagus and Grilled Chicken

Finally, the Pesto Pasta of My Dreams

Assembling this pasta has four steps, all of which are super easy.
(1) Make Pesto (2) Marinate and Grill Chicken (3) Roast Asparagus (4) Cook Pasta According to Package Directions
Serve with Killer Garlic Bread and enjoy.

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (it will take about a medium sized plant)
  2. 1/4 cup walnuts
  3. 5-6 roasted garlic cloves (optional, but delicious – see how to do this here).
  4. 1-2 cloves raw garlic, grated on a microplane, pressed or minced (the finer the garlic, the less you’ll need)
  5. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  6. Pinch of Kosher Salt
  7. 1/2 cup olive oil
  8. 4 chicken breasts (butterflying them increases surface area for marinade and reduces cooking time, but is not necessary)
  9. 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  10. 1 lb asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  11. 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or any high-smoke point oil)
  12. 1/4 cup heavy cream or Mexican crema
  13. 1 lb penne pasta, cooked according to package directions

Prep

For the Pesto

  1. Combine Basil leaves, walnuts, roasted garlic, raw garlic, half of Parmesan cheese, and pinch kosher salt in a food processor and pulse a few times. Scrape down the sides
  2. Add a bit of olive oil and pulse again. Continue this process until pesto has desired consistency, scraping down the sides as needed. Reserve at room temperature in a medium bowl

For the Chicken

  1. Butterfly chicken breasts if desired. Add to a large gallon freezer bag. Spoon 1/4 cup mayonnaise into bag with chicken, being careful not to cross-contaminate.
  2. Add 1/4 cup or so of the pesto sauce to the bag with the mayo and chicken, being very careful not to cross-contaminate.
  3. Seal bag and squeeze out as much of the air as possible. Massage to ensure chicken is well coated and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours

For the Asparagus

  1. Break woody ends off asparagus, allowing them to decide where to snap
  2. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet (or, if no wire rack, just on a baking sheet is fine).
  3. Coat asparagus in avocado oil (or use the spray version to make it wicked easy).

Cook

  1. Preheat grill or grill pan to hot. Grill chicken on all sides until lightly charred and internal temperature registers 150°F on an instant read thermometer. Reserve to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest while completing the steps below
  2. Place asparagus 2 inches below a broiler set on high. Roast 5 – 7 minutes under direct heat until asparagus is lightly charred. Remove and set aside
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions, stirring occassionally
  4. While pasta is cooking, slice chicken into 2 inch strips and cut asparagus into pieces of similar length
  5. When pasta is cooked, drain and immediately return to the pot it was cooked in.
  6. To this same pot, add chicken and asparagus and stir to combine
  7. Add heavy cream or crema, remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and all the remaining pesto sauce to the pot
  8. Turn heat on very low and stir everything using tongs or a wooden spoon until nice and creamy, 1 -2 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan cheese at the table

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