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Healthy chicken pesto pasta

Wholemeal or spelt pasta makes for a satisfying yet more nourishing meal and this low cal dish definitely delivers. As well as stirring through a delicious healthy basil pesto, our nutritionist has also thrown in four extra servings of vegetables and chicken for a protein fix.


14 Ingredients


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan

  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1-2 tbsp warm water

  • 200g dried spelt or wholemeal fusilli (spiral) pasta

  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces

  • 150g (1 cup) frozen green peas

  • 300g chicken breast fillets, thinly sliced

  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 60g baby spinach

  • Coarsely grated parmesan, to serve (optional)

4 Method Steps


  • Step 1

    Place basil
    (1 cup fresh basil leaves)
    , parmesan
    (2 tbsp finely grated parmesan)
    , pine nuts
    (1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted)
    and lemon rind
    (1 tsp finely grated lemon rind)
    in a small food processor and process until finely chopped. Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil
    (1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil)
    and 1 tbsp warm water
    (1-2 tbsp warm water)
    . Process until well combined, adding the remaining water if necessary. Season.

  • Step 2

    Cook the pasta
    (200g dried spelt or wholemeal fusilli (spiral) pasta)
    in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water following packet directions or until al dente, adding asparagus
    (2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces)
    and peas
    (150g (1 cup) frozen green peas)
    in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 60ml (1/4 cupful) cooking liquid.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook chicken
    (300g chicken breast fillets, thinly sliced)
    , stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Add the zucchini
    (2 zucchini, thinly sliced)
    and garlic
    (2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced)
    . Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the zucchini is tender crisp. Remove from heat.

  • Step 4

    Add the pasta mixture, pesto, spinach
    (60g baby spinach)
    and 1-2 tablespoonfuls of reserved cooking liquid to pan. Stir until well combined. Season and serve immediately with parmesan
    (Coarsely grated parmesan, to serve (optional))
    , if using.
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