Friday, September 19, 2008

Chicken Pesto Tortellini

This is a dish I make all the time - we probably have some variation on "One Bowl Chicken Pasta" a week. It's simple, quick, and easily improvised based on whatever you have in your pantry or 'fridge. And this week (and for weeks to come) I have our new batch of pesto, so I threw that in for an example of how you can use all those ice cubes of pesto you have sitting in your freezer.

(BTW: This is a great meal for a working couple. You've got 2 large portions to serve for dinner and 2 smaller portions for lunch the next day.)

2 tsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 can diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh chopped)
1 T tomato paste
1 cube frozen pesto, or 3 T fresh pesto
1 bag frozen tortellini

After cutting chicken, dry it with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Prepare pan of salted water for boiling frozen tortellini. Begin heating the water to boiling now.

On another burner, heat oil in a heavy skillet (I use my trusty cast iron skillet for this) over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 7-10 minutes, stirring until chicken is browned on all sides. Remove chicken to a bowl using a slotted spoon.

Add onion and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute - beware of burning the garlic!

Deglaze the pan by stirring in the red wine, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook & stir until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring until mixture is well incorporated. Add the chicken & any juices in the bowl back into the sauce.

Bring to a simmer, until tomato sauce is just starting to bubble in several spots, then reduce heat to low. Add the cube of pesto after the sauce has cooled slightly, stirring it in as it melts. Continue cooking on low, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the frozen tortellini according to package instructions. I prefer the frozen tortellini to the dried kind because it cooks faster - you can use whichever you prefer, or have on hand. Add to a medium sized bowl and toss with a splash of olive oil.

Give the sauce one final stir to make sure the pesto is fully incorporated, then pour onto the pasta. Stir to coat and serve with parmesan cheese.

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