Chicken Farfalle with Tomatoes and Pesto

  • Yield 6-8 servings

Ingredients

BASIL ALMOND PESTO
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
2 ounces (1/3 cup) roasted, salted, whole almonds (I prefer Blue Diamond brand)
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil (I prefer Bertolli Classico Mild Flavor)
PASTA INGREDIENTS:
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 large (or 4 medium) *tomatoes, preferably heirlooms
3 large (or 4 small) boneless/skinless chicken breast halves, preferably hormone free
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 pound dried farfalle pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika (I prefer Szeged brand)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup (1 recipe) Basil Almond Pesto
1/2 teaspoon salt
-- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 -- 12 fresh basil leaves
-- *In the winter, substitute a 14.5 ounce can of petite cut tomatoes, drained.

Instructions

PREPARE PESTO:
Remove (and discard) stems from larger basil leaves. Combine basil leaves, almonds, garlic clove, salt, and grated cheese in food processor bowl. Process to mix, about 10 seconds.

With machine running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube. Transfer pesto to small container. Pour a small amount of olive oil over pesto to cover, then cover container tightly with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Note: The pesto may be made 2-3 days ahead of time. Pesto may also be frozen in airtight containers. When basil leaves are abundant, I make extra recipes of the basil-almond pesto and freeze them, labeling each container (using freezer tape and a Sharpie) "Pesto for Farfalle with Chicken" . Thaw frozen pesto in the refrigerator overnight before using.

PREPARE PASTA:
Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot.

Meanwhile, finely mince garlic. Set aside.

Cut out the stem end of the tomatoes, then cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Use your finger to scoop out (and discard) the seeds. Chop tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Slice chicken breast halves lengthwise into 1 1/2 wide strips. Turn each chicken strip and cut (against the grain) into 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside.

Add Kosher salt to now boiling pasta water. Add pasta and cook according to pasta directions until just al dente. Drain well but do not rinse.

Cut butter into 4 slices and melt with oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chicken and saute, stirring frequently, until chicken has lost most of its pink color, about two minutes.

Sprinkle chicken with paprika and saute an additional 30 seconds. Add cream and tomatoes and simmer until chicken is cooked through, stirring frequently, about two minutes.

Add basil-almond pesto and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring just to a boil. Taste sauce and add additional salt (if desired) and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Add drained pasta to sauce and mix well with a heat-proof rubber spatula. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Cut basil leaves into fine chiffonade and sprinkle over pasta.
Serves 6-8

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