Today’s recipe comes to you as a direct result of another spectacular fail in the hands of the Slow Cooker. I was aiming for a Persian Lentil Soup and was dreaming of something exotic, fragrant, tasty and maybe even a little mysterious.
At least that’s what I was hoping for. But 8 hours later, what I actually got was a stodgy grey sludge. Not sure I’d even feed it to the dog …
Honestly, I struggle to love my slow cooker. I’ve had a mini moan about this before and with the exception of this Red Lentil & Bacon Slowcooker Soup (an absolute winner of all winners) AND the discovery that making chicken stock in the slow cooker is spectacularly good, success has passed me by. But I’m not going to be defeated by the pesky kitchen gadget because I know it SHOULD be a food saviour in a busy life. Watch this space.
Anyway, I was banking on this soup for packed lunches the next day, so once I’d done the walk of shame to the outside bin, I got on with the task in hand of finding a replacement.
Now, this recipe for Chicken and Red Pesto Pasta is not a recipe that will change the world but I thought I’d share it because sometimes inspiration for those easy, everyday things is hard to find. This is one of my ‘Oh flippin heck, I need something quick and easy to make for lunches’, and along with this sausage dish, is definitely on my list of packed lunch heroes.
This recipe is absolutely a framework. It uses lots of store cupboard and freezer essentials (including red pesto in a jar) and nothing about it is set in stone. Here’s how I did it this time –
This Chicken and Red Pesto Pasta is as delicious as it’s easy. The tin of chopped tomatoes cuts through the richness of the pesto and sneaking in all those vegetables has to be a good thing. It’s perfect at room temperature as well as when it’s hot and it’s a good packed lunch friend for sure.
But play around with this and make it your own according to what you like and what you have in the kitchen –
- Swap the pasta for your favourite shape.
- No time (or inclination) for chopping and frying off the vegetables? Use a drained tin of sweetcorn instead.
- Or go for some peas from the freezer – put them in a sieve and pour a kettle of boiling water over them.
- Replace the chicken with some sliced, cooked sausages (which you may have in the freezer). Slice them thinly and a little will go a long way.
- Make it a veggie dish and miss out the meat altogether.
- I used this roasted red pepper and almond pesto from Waitrose, but you could replace it with a tomato pesto or a chilli pesto (if you like it hot).
So there you go. A bit of everyday inspiration …
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
- 1 courgette, finely chopped
- 250g (9oz) pasta
- 250g (9oz) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 150g (5oz) cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
- ½ jar (about 100g (4oz)) red pesto, I used Waitrose Roasted Red Pepper & Almond Pesto this time
- 1 x 400g (1lb) tin of chopped tomatoes with herbs
- a small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan and add the chopped onion, yellow pepper and courgette. Stir to get fully coated in the oil and gently fry until the vegetables are soft.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until just soft. Drain.
- Tip the pasta, cherry tomatoes, cooked chicken, red pesto and the tin of chopped tomatoes into the cooked vegetables and mix gently but well.
- Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with some chopped parsley.
- Enjoy this dish hot or at room temperature.