Friday, 11 March 2011

Presto Pesto Pasta

Welcome to ‘The Chronicles of a Reluctant Housewife’ where I document my love/hate relationship with my current occupation.

Pesto Pasta
This is actually Pete’s recipe.  It’s one of our favourites.  It was created in one of those moments when you take stock of the contents of the fridge and just go for it.  It is one of our comfort meals.  It has many variations and no real measurements. 
In the spirit of its creation, you’ll just have to wing it.

What you will need:
Your favourite short pasta (by this I mean, bowties, spirals, penne)
Your favourite pesto
Your favourite cream cheese
Toasted pinenuts
Mushrooms, sliced
Crispy bacon (however you get it there.  We cut up rashers and bake them.  Fry some streaky bacon and cut it up, or just use ‘baco-bits.’  Although the real thing is best.)
Chicken breast, cut into chunks and browned or strips and grilled
Parmesan (or if you’re my Mom, Romano)

What you will do:

Decide what you want this time through.  We don’t always use mushrooms.  Last time we didn’t use chicken.  We always have bacon.  It’s bacon! 

Get your pasta water going.  If you’re using the chicken, either throw it in the frying pan with some oil to brown, or sear it on a grill and then bake for a about 15 minutes in the oven.  Once the chicken is almost ready, throw the pasta in the water.  Most takes between 7-11 minutes to cook depending on type and preference.  If you’re using the mushrooms throw them in the frying pan (with the chicken if using) and get them cooking.  It would be great to have nice brown, yet firm, slices, but this takes patience and space (“remember, don’t crowd the mushrooms or they won’t brown”) and we usually just end up with blackened curled pieces.  It’s all about preference and patience. 
Basically it’s all about the sauce.  At this point, the pasta should almost be ready.  Move the contents of the frying pan to the edges to create a space in the centre, turn down the heat.  Grab the cream cheese.  If you’re using Philly, you’ll probably need about half of a thin tub.  Plop it into the centre, add a little water and start to ‘stir.’  It will slowly start to melt into a cream sauce.  Now add the pesto.  We use about half a small jar.  Both these ingredients are to your discretion.  Pete likes it more cheesy, I like it more pesto-y.  Start to stir both the sauces together and with the contents of the pan.  Pasta should be done.  Drain it and throw it in the pan.  Toss the pasta, sauce and contents together.  If you need more sauce, clear the centre and add a little more.  If you are baking the chicken, add it now.  Add the bacon.  Toss again.  Turn off the heat. 
Serve in bowl topped with pinenuts and parmesan shavings. 

Feel free to lick the remaining sauce from the pan and serving spoon.  This is my Dad’s favourite part. 

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