Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chicken & Pasta With Broccoli Rabe Pesto

While Jake loves vegetables, my mister is a different story.  I have worked hard over the last 15 years to get him to at least tolerate vegetables, but tolerate is as far as I have gotten.  He comes by it naturally, his dad still won't touch a single vegetable.  Not one to give up easily, I am always looking for ways to make vegetables more appealing to him and to increase the amount I get him to eat.  When this recipe for broccoli rabe pesto popped up in my inbox I knew it would be the perfect way to do just that.  If you aren't familiar with broccoli rabe, also called rapini, it is a leafy green that has little broccoli like florets hidden amongst the leaves.  Sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic it is one of my favorite vegetables.  This pesto just takes that up to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Start out by roasting some garlic.  Roasted garlic is such an easy way to transform the flavor of your dish from ordinary to extraordinary.  On a piece of foil put a few garlic cloves (still in their peel), drizzle with a little olive oil, and crack on some salt and pepper.  You could also do the whole head of garlic and use the extras to just spread on toasted bread. (Mmm, mmm, mmm!)  Wrap the garlic up in the foil and bake at 350 for about half an hour.

While the garlic is transforming itself into sweet, garlic heaven, you can prep your broccoli rabe.  Wash it and then cut off the thick bottom stems.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once the water it boiling, add a generous pinch of kosher salt and the broccoli rabe to the water.  Cook until it turns bright green, about 30 seconds.

Squeeze out as much of the water as you can, then put the broccoli rabe into your food processor.  Add in some freshly grated Parmesan (I use my favorite Parmesan Romano blend from Trader Joe's), kosher salt, pepper, olive oil, and then squeeze the garlic out of their skins.

Process it all for about 30 seconds, until it is smooth.  Did I mention that this freezes well?  It does, really well.  So, I usually make a double batch.  At this point, I put half of the pesto into a container, top it with press and seal, and then stick on the lid.  The other half I stick in the fridge for dinner that night because I like to make this during nap time.  You can do it all at once, but it is easier for me if I have less to do when Luke is awake.

Speaking of having less to do, one of my favorite dinner shortcuts is rotisserie chicken.  Almost every time I go to Costco I buy a rotisserie chicken.  For $4.99 I get a delicious cooked chicken that usually gives me enough for two dinners.  Josh is my official chicken cutter (I am a little, okay a lot, grossed out by the whole chicken bones and skin thing).  He portions it into a ziploc for the freezer and a container for dinner that week.
When it is time for dinner, cook your favorite pasta according to the instructions on the package.  I like shells because they act like little cups for the pesto to fill.  Before you drain the pasta, reserve a little of the pasta water.  While the pasta is draining in your colander, put the pesto and your cut up rotisserie chicken into the pot to heat up.  Add the pasta back in, stir it all together, and slowly add in the reserved pasta water until you get the consistency you want.
That's it.  You have a complete dinner with pasta, vegetables, and protein all in one delicious pot.  I always serve it with extra Parmesan on top because I can never get enough Parmesan.  This is comfort food you can feel good about serving your family!  The garlicky pesto is so unbelievably tasty.  Volunteer to do the dishes too, then you can lick the spoon, the plate, and everything else to get up every last drop of this broccoli rabe pesto and no one will ever be the wiser.  

Chicken & Pasta with Broccoli Rabe Pesto
Adapted from Josh Laurano

  • 4 cloves garlic (whole and unpeeled)
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus an extra drizzle for the garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and a pinch for the garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch for the garlic
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1/2 a rotisserie chicken cut into bite sized chunks
  1. Lay the garlic cloves on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a little pepper.  Wrap the garlic up in the foil and cook at 350 for 30 minutes.  Then set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile set a pot of water to boil.  Wash the broccoli rabe and then trim off the thick bottom stems.  When the water boils, add in a generous pinch of kosher salt and the broccoli rabe.  Cook until it turns bright green, about 30 seconds, then remove to a colander and run cold water over it.  Squeeze out as much water as you can.
  3. In a food processor place the drained broccoli rabe, olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1 cup Parmesan.  Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and add it to the food processor.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  4. Cook pasta according to the package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the water before draining.
  5. Put the pesto and chicken in the pasta pot to warm up.  Add the pasta back in and stir to coat.  Add the pasta water in slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Serve with extra Parmesan on the side.

I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesdays, Moonlight & Mason JarsMad Skills, Create Link Inspire, Lou Lou Girls, Thrifty Thursday, Pin Junkie, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, Pinworthy Projects, Creativity Unleashed, Show Stopper Saturday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Saturday Night Fever, Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday, and Monday Funday.