Homemade Chicken Pesto Pasta with Tomatoes
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I don’t always feel like making my pasta from scratch, but every few weeks I will. It really does taste incredibly light and bears almost no resemblance to the boxed kind.
If this skill is something you’d like to master, you can get a KitchenAid Pasta Attachment from Amazon by checking out this link. This set of three pasta attachments go with the KitchenAid Standing Mixer (duh), which you can find with this link to Amazon. These mixers do come in various prices.
The Pasta Attachment comes with a little instruction book, and the instructions are very simple and easy to follow. There are different attachments you can choose, but my set has a roller for the basic sheet of pasta (which you can use for Ravioli or cutting into whatever shape you like, including Farfalle or very wide noodles, including lasagna), as well as a cutter for Fettuccine and one for Spaghetti. If I put my pasta roller on “5,” I can make Angel Hair with the Spaghetti Roller. So, basically, this set has you covered!
This is the “recipe” I use most often. Adding spinach to my pasta dough is not only pretty, it also has the benefit of adding lots of nutrients to my dish and assuages any guilt I might be feeling about eating pasta in the first place.
KitchenAid Spinach Pasta
1 10 ounce package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed (usually I use about half a small bag of fresh baby spinach, instead)
1 Tablespoon water
4 large eggs
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Place spinach in a towel and wring out all water until spinach feels very dry. (When I use frozen spinach, I put it in a potato ricer – this works like a charm to remove all of the water).
Finely chop spinach using a food grinder attachment, a food processor, or a blender. (If you don’t yet own a Cuisinart Food Processor, it’s time to get with the program! Mine has lasted me many, many years. Use this link on Amazon. If you do invest in one, keep it on the counter. It’s heavy! A Cuisinart in the cupboard is a Cuisinart that stays in the cupboard!
Place chopped spinach, water, eggs, and flour in the mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.
Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead for 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand-knead for 1 to 2 minutes.
Divide dough into eight pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller Attachment.
Yield: 1 ½ lbs. dough
To Cook Pasta
Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 Tablespoon oil (optional) to 6 quarts boiling water. Gradually add pasta and continue to cook at a boil until pasta is “al dente” or slightly firm to the bite. Pasta floats to the top of the water while cooking, so stir occasionally to keep it cooking evenly. Drain in a colander. Don’t rinse!
Dry pasta – 7 minutes
Fresh pasta – 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the noodles.
Chicken Pesto Pasta
Chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces and patted dry with paper towels
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pasta, cooked until al dente
Pesto, homemade or store bought, brought to room temperature
Fresh parmesan, grated
Heat a large skillet to medium high. A cast iron skillet works best. Here’s a link for you on Amazon; nothing browns chicken the way a cast iron skillet does! This Lodge 10 1/4″ skillet costs under $15.00 and it will last you an entire lifetime. And it’s pre-seasoned!
Add enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the bottom. Add chicken pieces, salt and pepper. Cook through, but don’t overcook!
Remove cooked chicken to a pie plate. Turn skillet down to medium low.
When cooked pasta has drained, return it to the skillet. Add your pesto, chicken, some chopped tomatoes and chopped spinach (optional).
If you’d like to make your own Pesto, from the garden or the store, try this. I freeze mine every summer and use it throughout the winter. It only takes minutes.
Place your clean basil leaves in a food processor. Add chopped garlic (taste as you go), either from the jar or fresh. Add salt and pepper. With the motor running, pour Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the tube that feeds in the oil gradually. I like my pesto a bit on the runny side, but that’s up to you. Adjust garlic, salt and pepper.
Top with grated fresh parmesan and serve. On the side, you can have a salad or some good French bread. Or both!
If you want to make the noodles a day or two ahead, or even earlier in the day, you can do the following: line a rimmed cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. After cutting the pasta into noodles with your Pasta Attachment, carefully lay out on the lined cookie sheet, so that the noodles don’t overlap each other too much. You will require more than one cookie sheet for this.
Freeze immediately and remove from freezer when pasta water is boiling. Being frozen will not add much in terms of cooking time. I find this method easier to do than drying, but you can follow the instructions KitchenAid provides for drying if you like.