I think pesto sauces is one of the best aspects of Italian cooking. It is beautiful in color and smell and very healthy, with a nice dose of extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. It also can take a really simple dish and give a new and exciting twist. With this in mind, I have been trying to make the perfect pesto sauce for months now. Something always goes wrong, like I don’t have enough basil or I put in too much garlic, or I add too many pine nuts so it comes out grainy. As many times as I tried and failed, I was too determined to call it quits. I finally found the perfect pesto sauce!

I actually got it from our pizza making class with Osteria’s Jeff Michaud, but it is a pretty generic recipe and you don’t really need exact measurements. However, I will say it is the best pesto I have made to date. I’ll share what I did below:

Perfect Pesto

1/4 cup untoasted pine nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 garlic clove
Parmesan cheese, shredded; as much as you please
salt/pepper to taste
2 cups of fresh basil

Process in a food processor until smooth. Add more or less olive oil depending on how pasty you like it.

Now that I found my perfect pesto, I had to put it to the test!

I found a delicious recipe from All Recipes that combined pasta, sun dried tomatoes (yum!), and chicken for a bit of protein.

Pesto Pasta with Chicken

1 (160z) package of bow tie pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1/3 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips
1/2 pesto sauce

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until a dente, drain.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic until tender, then stir in chicken. Season with fresh red pepper flakes. Cook until chicken is golden and coated through.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, tomatoes, and pesto. Toss to coat evenly.

The dish was simple and delicious and covered most of the food groups! I didn’t feel like spending the money for oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (so pricey!), so instead I bought regular dried and reconstituted them on the stove in a bit of water. If you are not yet ready to test pesto-perfection out on your own, you can easily find jarred pesto in your supermarket in the pasta section. It’s a great twist on regular pasta night, and it’s perfect for those of you who don’t love tomates!

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