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 flipping 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 -
- Finely chop the onion, pepper and courgette.
- Fry the vegetables until soft and at the same time cook the pasta until ready (reserving a little of the pasta water).
- Halve the cherry tomatoes.
- Combine the chicken, cooked vegetables, cherry tomatoes, red pesto, the tin of chopped tomatoes and a splash or two of the pasta water.
- Garnish with a little chopped parsley.
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 Chicken and Red Pesto Pasta and make it your own -
- 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 a 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 ...Print
Chicken and Red Pesto Pasta
This is one of my, 'Oh flippin heck, I need something quick and easy to make for lunches' and is as delicious as it's easy.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 35 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Hob
- Cuisine: Western
- 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. Scoop out some of the pasta water (about a cup) and then drain the cooked pasta.
- Tip the pasta, cherry tomatoes, cooked chicken, red pesto and the tin of chopped tomatoes into the cooked vegetables and mix gently but well. Add a little of the pasta water to create a smooth, silky sauce.
- Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with some chopped parsley.
- Enjoy this dish hot or at room temperature.
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. Play around with it and make the dish your own according to what you like and what you have in the kitchen
Keywords: quick, store cupboard, packed lunch