Linguine with Chicken and Spicy Pesto

Oh man, today was a good day. Chicago set an all-time record high temperature for this day (80 degrees on March 14!), and I actually got to go for a run outside after work. Other good things about today? March Madness is in full swing, AND I made this delicious linguine. Mmm, linguine…

I found this recipe a couple of months ago in a cookbook I checked out from the Chicago Public Library (a.k.a., what the cool kids do on the weekend). I love pesto, and I was really intrigued by the idea of using store-bought pesto as a base and then mixing in other ingredients to make something a little fancier. It actually worked out well and created a really nice, complex flavor – you could taste the heat of the jalapenos, the nuttiness of the pecans, the…cilantro-i-ness…of the cilantro, etc. Plus, this came together pretty quickly. Take a look:

LINGUINE WITH CHICKEN AND SPICY PESTO (adapted from Bon Appetit Fresh Easy Fast)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut in small pieces (I used thighs and really liked it)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (I toasted pecan chips in a small skillet over medium heat)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup prepared, reduced-fat pesto
12 oz linguine
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, add to skillet, and sauté until cooked through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl, leaving oil and drippings in skillet.
  2. Add green onion, cilantro, pecans, garlic, red pepper, and jalapeno to same skillet. Saute 2 minutes. Mix in pesto and chicken. Remove sauce from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, cook linguine according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid.
  4. Bring sauce to a simmer, add linguine and reserved cooking liquid, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, topped with cilantro and parmesan cheese.

We both really liked the interesting flavor of pesto + pecans + cilantro + jalapeno. It wasn’t as spicy as I was expecting, so if you gotta have the heat, maybe dice up an extra jalapeno to throw in there.

Happy March Madness (and Rock Chalk Jayhawk)!

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One thought on “Linguine with Chicken and Spicy Pesto

  1. Pingback: Pea and Pesto Risotto « windykitchen

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