Campanelle with Lemon Pesto and Parmesan-Crusted Chick’n

Sorry, didn't capture this one in time... as you can see the leftovers were delicious!
I'll tell you more about my travels tomorrow. For now, all you need to know is that I'm glad to be back in my city, my bed, my shower, my couch and most of all, my kitchen.

One of the perks to living in a full-service building, is that while we're away, someone (named Mario) comes to take care of our plants. Thing is, our plants seem to like Mario better than us. Every time we leave we come back to super-plants that really haven't missed us at all. This time the mint is out-of-control, climbing into the basil's territory and even toward the A/C vent nearby. The basil grew about 10" higher, with leaves bigger than my hands.

The basil was below the window sill just two weeks ago

Sunday night I made pesto. There was really no alternative.

I've never been a big fan of pesto. I hate most of the store-bought kinds. I've made it before, but always found it too dry and pasty. However, when we were in Kolkata last week, we had some really good pasta. I was kind of sick from the local flavors, and we stopped for a break from it in the nearby westernized shopping mall.

Spaghetti Kitchen was our oasis - we didn't think we would be having any decent Italian food in India, but it was really really good. My husband ordered Fettucine Genovese, and I actually loved it. The pesto tasted like it was made with the freshest basil, like the licorice-kissed flavor of home-grown basil unlike what you get at the grocery. It was a thinner consistency also, which was not completely absorbed by the noodles. So simple, but so fresh tasting.

So when I saw the super-basil beginning to block our view at home, it was the perfect time to experiment with pesto. I added a bit of mouth-watering lemon juice to brighten the flavor and to thin the sauce. I skimped on pine nuts and cheese to make it more smooth, as well. It turned out so very good, accompanied by some crispy Gardein chick'n. Thank goodness for home-cooking at last!

Campanelle with Lemon Pesto and Parmesan-Crusted Chick’n
2 servings

Campanelle with Lemon Pesto
8oz dry Campanelle pasta
¼ C toasted pine nuts

Lemon Pesto:
2 C (packed) basil leaves
1 large clove of garlic, or 2 small
½ C – ¾ C good-quality extra virgin olive oil
¼ toasted pine nuts
¼ C grated parmesan cheese
¼ C fresh lemon juice
sea salt & black pepper to taste

Boil the Campanelle as per the package directions, about 10-11 minutes for al-dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, pack basil and garlic into the small bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop, scraping sides if needed.  Set to “on” and drizzle 1/2C olive oil through the chute. Scrape down and continue to blend until smooth, adding more oil if needed to get a velvety consistency.

Add pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree and adjust to taste.

Add about ½ C of the pesto, and ¼ C pine nuts to the cooked pasta and toss together. Add more as desired, but reserve about ¼ C to top chicken, or for serving.

Vegetarian Parmesan-Crusted Chick’n
4 Gardein Chick’n Filets or frozen Scallopini (thawed) (1 package)
¼ C flour
¼ C Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 T grated parmesan
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil

Combine flour, bread crumbs and parmesan in a bowl and dredge each filet.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Add filets and fry until golden brown on both sides.  Remove to paper towels to drain.

Serve with pasta, topped with remaining pesto.


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