Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta

Standard

Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta

This dish has become one of my favorites over the past few months. It’s easy, fairly quick, and always satisfying. As with most of my other recipes, it is ever-evolving. It started out with just Alfredo sauce and artichokes, then I threw in some pesto. Then some chicken. Sometimes even tomatoes when the mood strikes. In addition to that, I have created two versions of it: Healthy and Not-As-Healthy (but delicious – let’s call it the Indulgent version).

The Healthy version includes whole grain pasta and Greek yogurt, while the Indulgent version (pictured above) uses more traditional Alfredo-like sauce and whatever kind of pasta your little heart desires. I’m a lover of creamy, savory dishes but as it turns out… with cream comes fat. Boo. So I tried to make this pasta dish a bit healthier but still satisfying. Spring Break is coming up in two months and I’ll be spending it on the beach in Florida with my friends from school, so I’m trying to shed a few lbs and tone up before then.
That being said, here are the two versions:

Healthy

Like many others out there, I love my carbs. Though loading up on the carbohydrates is not beneficial to your weight, they are in fact needed by the body to use for energy and in moderation, will not harm your figure. It’s also important to know the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. Pasta is not the best type of carb you can eat, but if you’re going to, opt for whole grain. Whole grain pasta is less processed than whole wheat and white, and also contains complex carbohydrates that take longer to break down and therefore keep you feeling full for longer.
Greek yogurt has become very popular over the past few years, and for good reasons. It is generally fat free and is loaded with protein, while still containing a nice creamy consistency. It’s delicious as snack, or you can substitute plain Greek yogurt for cream in many dishes.

Ingredients:
serves 2

  • 6 oz. whole grain pasta (about half of one package)
  • 2 skinless boneless thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 1/2-1 cup quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
  • reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook your pasta according to directions on package.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prepare your chicken. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to each side and place on lightly greased grill. Cook until both sides are very lightly browned. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. After draining and rinsing pasta, serve in bowls. Add cut up chicken.
  4. In a separate small bowl, add pesto and Greek yogurt. Mix together and pop in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds. This step is optional, but I found that when I added cold yogurt directly to the pasta, it cooled off the entire dish and wasn’t as tasty.
  5. Pour pesto/yogurt mixture over pasta and chicken, and add artichokes and/or tomatoes. Add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. A few drops of olive oil may also be added if desired.

Indulgent

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz (half of one package) of your favorite pasta
  • 2 skinless boneless thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Alfredo sauce – I’ve actually been using Philadelphia Cooking Creme in Savory Garlic, but feel free to use a different type, or make your own – I like this recipe
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2-1 cup quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Follow steps 1-3 above. If you’re good at multitasking in the kitchen, you can prepare the sauce at the same time as the pasta and chicken, but if not, you can finish cooking those two things before moving on.
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. Add artichokes and tomatoes and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Pour Alfredo sauce and pesto over the artichokes and tomatoes. Cook only for a few minutes, just until it’s warm, because the Alfredo (or Cooking Creme) tends to dry up quickly and stick to the pan if you leave it on for too long.
  4. Pour the sauce over the pasta and chicken. Add Parmesan cheese.*

*This dish also is very tasty with a squirt of fresh lemon juice. I love the tanginess of the lemon and artichokes together. You can also use breaded chicken if you prefer.

Now that I’ve finished typing this up, I think I know what I’m having for dinner!

If you tried this recipe, which version did you try? I’d love to get any type of feedback – suggestions, critiques, general comments. Let me know what you think!

 

Advertisements

6 responses »

  1. Hello Hannah I hope your day has gone well I just like to say I love your post with the I love pesto ,especially with chicken and pasta .Its very healthy and good for because of the garlic and basil.
    Well keep up the good work and I will check back to see what else you’ve post.

  2. I have made this recipe several times for my family….we love it! I actually combine a little of both recipes. I use half the alfredo sauce and half greek yogurt. Perfect compromise of both!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s