My basil plant is looking very healthy at the moment and as soon as I brush past and smell it I immediately think of pesto. A huge bowl of pasta topped with an oily pesto isn't a great dinner, but in his "15 minute meals" Jamie Oliver has a wonderful pesto pasta served with chicken and a wide variety of veggies which is a much better balance for dinner. I have changed this recipe around a bit as I find in the 15 and 30 minute meals Jamie jumps all over the place and I need to cook in a more orderly fashion! This is a meal that my children adore and I like to serve it the night before a cross country carnival or rugby comp. I often add in some zucchini noodles along with the pasta. Green beans and spinach are a wonderful source of dietary fibre which help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and helps prevent bowel cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Best of all fibre helps you feel fuller for longer, helping you manage your weight more easily. Chicken breast, almonds and parmesan are all good sources of protein which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Rosemary chicken with pesto pasta
Adapted from Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals, Serves: 4-6
2x 200g skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
4- 5 cloves of garlic
punnet ripe cherry tomatoes
Pasta & Pesto
250g green beans
1 big bunch of fresh basil
50g blanched almonds
50g parmesan cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
250g dried pasta, pappardelle is nice
200g baby spinach
Put the basil leaves, almonds, parmesan, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice into a food processor and blitz until smooth. You might need a spoonful of pasta cooking water (see step 5) to loosen.
Cut the chicken breast horizontally in half so that it is butterflied out. Season your chicken with salt, pepper, fennel seeds and rosemary leaves over greaseproof paper and then bash to flatten with a rolling pin. Put it in to the frying pan with your olive oil and the bashed, unpeeled garlic cloves. You will need to turn it after about 4 minutes and cook until golden.
Cook your pasta in a large saucepan according to packet directions. Trim your beans, and add them to the pasta for the last 5 minutes.
Halve your cherry tomatoes, add them to the chicken and shake the pan. Stir the spinach into your pasta pan and drain but reserve a little of the water.
Return everything to the pan, pour in your pesto and splash in the water until smooth and silky. Slice your chicken breasts in half and serve with the tomatoes on top.
Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain. She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers in person or online consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks.