pesto chicken penne pasta

I first had this dish at a little italian restaurant in Gamla Stan (the old town area of Stockholm), Sweden.   I loved it so much that I actually went back to that restaurant twice in the few days I was there!

I have spent years working on recreating this dish, and finally have it perfected.  This is exactly as I remember it tasting!  (Someday I will have to go back to Stockholm and test my theory!)  

Pesto Chicken Penne Pasta Recipe

2 chicken breasts, sauteed in olive oil, with salt & pepper
1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente
1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water
2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup (or so) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Cook the chicken, set aside.  Cook the pasta, drain and set aside (reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water).

In your food processor, place the basil, 1/4 cup of the toasted pine nuts, garlic clove and salt & pepper and red pepper flakes.  Pulse until everything is finely chopped.  Turn the food processor on, and slowly stream in the olive oil until you have a smooth, creamy consistency.  Dump the pesto into a large bowl, stir in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need any more salt and pepper.

Dump the penne and the chicken into the bowl with the pesto in it, and stir to combine well.  Add pasta water, a little at a time (you may not need all of it!), until the sauce has coated all the noodles and chicken.  Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts and serve!

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