Main Dishes

Pesto Pasta with Chicken, Prosciutto, and Arugula

This is a variation of one of my favorite dishes to order at Cheesecake Factory- Chicken Bellagio. In this dish, thin spaghetti is coated with a pesto sauce and then topped with chicken, prosciutto, and arugula. In the original recipe, the chicken is breaded and fried. In an effort to make this dish healthier, I skipped the breading and used a very small amount of oil to cook the chicken. The combination of the chicken, prosciutto, arugula, and pesto is absolutely fantastic.`

Ingredients:

4 thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 lb. thin spaghetti
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
8 slices prosciutto
3 cups arugula
Juice from ½ a lemon
Shaved parmesan cheese

Directions:

Step 1: Prepare the pesto: Place the basil and walnuts in a food processor and pulse several times. Add the garlic, parmesan cheese, ¼ tsp. salt, and some pepper and pulse a few more times. While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the oil, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor when necessary. Set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the chicken: In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with the seasoning mixture. Place one tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, then remove and keep warm. *You can move on to Step 3 while the chicken is cooking.

Step 3: Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Stir in a tablespoon of salt and then add the spaghetti. Cook according to package directions (do not overcook). Reserve one cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.

Step 4: Return the pasta to the pan along with the pesto and ½ cup of the pasta water. Stir until a creamy sauce forms and coats all of the pasta (add more pasta water if necessary).

Step 5: In a medium-size bowl, toss the arugula with the lemon juice, one tablespoon of oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Divide the pasta among 4 plates and top with the chicken. Place 2 slices of prosciutto over each piece of chicken, then top with the arugula. Shave some fresh parmesan over the top.

Enjoy!

 Making the pesto…

Prepare the chicken…

Make the pasta and mix with the pesto…

Put it all together…

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