Chicken and Spinach Pesto Pasta

There is nothing better than coming home after a long day of seeing clients to find your wonderful husband has not only cooked a delicious dinner but has also cleaned the kitchen (this was the happiest part)! This is the recipe for the surprise pasta dish that I found in my kitchen – a Chicken and Spinach Pesto Pasta.

To make it have a little more fibre and to reduce the carbohydrate load, I’d suggest replacing all (or half) of the spaghetti with zucchini pasta.  Recipe for that is here.  I would also add some chopped mushrooms and broccolini if I were to cook it next time (hey, I have to give him credit for trying!).

What you need for the Chicken and Spinach Pesto Pasta…

CHICKEN MARINADE

–         4 (about 200g each) chicken breast fillets

–         60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice

–         1 teaspoon sweet paprika

–         1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

–         1 tablespoon olive oil

SAUCE AND PESTO

–         1/2 red onion, finely chopped

–         150g baby spinach leaves

–         2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

–         1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked

–         100g reduced-fat feta

–         45g (1/3 cup) almonds

–         2 tablespoons finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

–         60ml (1/4 cup) light and creamy evaporated milk

–         40ml (2 tbspn) olive oil, extra

SPAGHETTI

–         500g dried spaghetti pasta  (see option below)

 

How to make the magic happen…

  1. Slice each chicken breast into 3-4cm pieces.  Combine lemon juice, paprika and oregano in a bowl; add chicken and marinate for approx 30 minutes in fridge.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the spinach and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until the spinach just wilts. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor.
  3. Add basil, feta, almonds, and pecorino/parmesan to the spinach mixture. Process until finely chopped. Add evaporated milk and extra oil. Process until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan. Add the spinach pesto and toss to combine.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat a chargrill on medium-high. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes each side or until cooked through. Slice the chicken across the grain.
  6. Divide the pasta mixture and chicken among serving plates.

*Option – Replace some or all of the spaghetti and include zucchini pasta instead.

 

In the Thermomix…

CHICKEN MARINADE

  1. Slice each chicken breast into 3cm pieces.  Combine lemon juice, paprika and oregano in a bowl; add chicken and marinate for approx 30 minutes in fridge.
  2. While chicken is marinating move onto making sauce.

SAUCE AND PESTO

  1. Place onion and garlic in TM bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape sides of bowl, add 10g olive oil and cook for 3 minutes at 100C on speed 1.  Add spinach and cook for 1.5 minutes at 100C on speed 1.
  2. Leave spinach mixture in bowl and add basil, feta, almonds and parmesean.  Set dial to  and turbo 2-3 times.  Add evaporated milk and 20g remaining olive oil and mix for 5 seconds on speed 3.  Set aside in Thermoserver.

COOKING CHICKEN AND SPAGHETTI

  1. Place 1 litre warm water into TM bowl.
  2. Place marinated chicken into the varoma dish and set into position.  Cook for 20-25 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 2, turning once during cooking.
  3. While chicken is cooking, cook spaghetti on stove so it is all ready at some time.
  4. Place chicken and spaghetti into thermoserver with sauce and toss to combine.  Let it stand for 5 minutes, the sauce will thicken and coat the spaghetti.
  5. Serve with extra grated parmesan cheese.

Quirky Quinoa Salad

We have posted about how much we love the super grain Quinoa before (check it out here) so I thought we should post another recipe for you all to try!  I made this for a family Summer BBQ we had last weekend.  I knew my sisters would love it however I was less certain about the boys in my family.  Our boys love salad – but they are very quick to tell you how much they hate the way we add ‘all that other junk’ (i.e chickpeas, fruit, noodles) to them – they just want normal green salads ‘like mum makes it’.  Time to think outside the box guys!

The result? My husband was at first cautious about this strange looking salad but I think it was proof that he loved it when he scoffed all of the salad leftovers before any of the others the following day!  SUCCESS!

If you’d like to make this more substantial (i,e as a complete meal), add some chicken or boiled eggs. Perfect for lunches as it can be pre-made just leave the dressing in a separate container until ready to eat.

This salad is GLUTEN FREE, LOW GI HIGH FIBRE.  Leave out the white part of the spring onions and the chickpeas to make it LOW FODMAPS.

quinoa salad

What you need…

  • 170g (1 cup) mixed coloured quinoa as desired, soaked in enough water to cover for minimum 30 minutes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tin (425g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ sweet potato or pumpkin (approx. 250g), sliced approx. 1 cm thick pieces
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 4 spring onion/shallots, sliced on the angle
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced thinly
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 100 g reduced fat feta, cubed
  • 100g (approx) mixed toasted nuts and seeds, (I used walnut, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pepitas lightly roasted in the oven on a baking tray)
  • ½ bag mixed salad greens or baby spinach
  • Few Italian parsley leaves (optional)

 

Dressing:

  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) tamari or soy sauce
  • 40g fresh lemon juice (or juice of approx. 2 small lemons)
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil

 

How the magic happens…

Doing it the traditional way:

  1. Combine water and quinoa in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat chargrill or oven grill on med-high. Spray lightly with oil. Cook the sweet potato/pumpkin for 8-10 minutes or until slightly tender. Break up roughly into large pieces.
  3. Add the all other ingredients to the quinoa.
  4. Blend together the lemon juice, garlic, oil and soy sauce until well combined.  Add the dressing to the quinoa mixture.
  5. Toss salad gently.  Top with extra seeds and serve!

 

Thermomix magic:

  1. Drain quinoa and place into simmering basket. Fill Thermomix bowl to 1L mark with water and set basket into bowl.
  2. Place the lid on the bowl, with Varoma on top, and pumpkin/sweet potato spread evenly in Varoma dish. Ensure it is spread apart enough that steam can get through.
  3. Steam quinoa 18 min/Varoma temp/speed 2. Remove basket from bowl and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the salad by combining all remaining salad ingredients.
  5. Make dressing by placing all ingredients into Thermomix bowl and blending 20 sec/speed 8.
  6. Pour over prepared salad and add quinoa. Toss gently.
  7. Garnish with additional seeds, nuts, spring onions etc.

 

Recipe inspired by Quirky Cooking and Tenina