Chicken Pesto Pasta

chicken pesto pasta

This pasta salad is a hit with many, and like most of my recipes, it is versatile. Substitute chicken for mushrooms, shrimp, or another vegetable. Don’t like zucchini, asparagus is another delicious option or try broccoli. Also, this is sort of a one-pan meal with the exception of the pasta.

*    It looks like there is a ton of salt in this recipe, but most of it is for the pasta water.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. pasta (farfalle, penne, fusilli or tortellini)
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 2 zucchinis, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped, and 3 Tbs reserved oil
  • 1/3 cup of pesto
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 Tbs salt / 1 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

~ Marinate the chicken breasts for at least 5 hours or overnight in Italian dressing, discard marinade after use – never reuse meat marinade!

~ Cook the pasta al dente, use 3 Tbs of the salt for the pasta water. Drain and pour into a large serving bowl with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the reserved oil, pesto, and 2 Tbs of the olive oil, stir to mix.

~ Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken on a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

~ Toss the zucchini and tomatoes in 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 tsp salt / 1/2 tsp pepper. Place on the baking sheet with the chicken and flip the chicken over. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring the veggies once.

~ Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Add chicken, vegetables, and another drizzle of olive oil, stir gently to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Teriyaki Chicken

This dish, served with short-grain brown rice and grilled asparagus, is a real treat. It’s fast, healthy, and so easy, a zombie could cook it.

Don’t let the amounts of oil, sugar, and soy sauce in the ingredients list deceive you into thinking this meal isn’t healthy. Most of it serves as a marinade and is tossed out afterwards.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 chicken breasts, pounded for tenderness
  • 1 1/3 cups low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3/4 canola oil
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 diced green onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

~ Mix ingredients from soy sauce down to chili flakes. Pour 3/4 into a large Ziploc bag or bowl and add chicken. Marinate for a few hours to overnight.

~ Grill chicken over medium to high heat for 4-6 minutes per side. Baste with the left-over sauce.

~ Let chicken rest for five minutes after removing from heat and before slicing into it. Cut into bite-sized chunks and serve with grilled asparagus/zucchini/broccoli and short-grained brown or white rice.

SKEWERS:
Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks before marinating and grill instead on skewers with  zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and/or onions over medium to high heat for 10-15 minutes, rotating once or twice.

 

White Bean and Tuna Salad

20170805_120317The flavor and simplicity of this salad are what makes it one of my go-to salads. Plus, it’s super healthy. There’s lots of protein with the tuna and beans, flavorful red onions, and the tasty red peppers add the perfect crunch. Plus, any zombie can put it together in under five minutes. No lie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 can of navy beans
  • 1/2 cup of diced red peppers
  • 1/2 cup of diced red onion
  • 1 lemon, juice or 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 3-5 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt/ 1/2 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

~ Rinse and drain the navy beans.
~ Place beans, tuna, red onion and pepper in a large bowl.
~ Drizzle lemon juice/vinegar and 3 Tbs olive oil over the top.
~ Season with salt and pepper.
~ Toss well and let sit 15 minutes to a half hour for flavors to blend.

Spinach and Mushroom Scramble

This is one hearty, healthy, hellaciously-good breakfast. It’s fast, easy, and not too draining on the pocketbook. Plus, it can be stuffed into a tortilla wrap for on-the-go eating – you’re a zombie, you have things to do.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup spinach, fresh
  • 2 Tbs parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

~ Whisk eggs in bowl. Heat a skillet with olive oil. Sautee mushrooms until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and sautee for 1 minute. Add spinach, and stir until wilted.

~ Push spinach and mushroom mixture to the out edges of the skillet. Pour eggs in the middle, and stir to cook. When almost set, mix with the outer vegetables, and toss to combine, cooking until eggs are done the way you like them.

~ Top with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Detox Salad

Cleanse your digestive track, recharge your energy, and release toxins with this delicious detox salad. It’s versatile, substitute ingredients with what you have, and is hearty enough to last a couple of days in the fridge.

As with most salads, the list of ingredients looks long, but they are common produce items and the last five ingredients are for the dressing, so feel free to use store-bought dressing, a vinaigrette on hand, or your own creation. Also, because there are a lot of strong flavors in this salad, I recommend keeping the addition of raisins, as the sweetness helps balance the flavors.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/2 red cabbage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins (I used golden) or apple, chopped
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

~ Whisk lemon juice, honey, olive oil, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss to stir. Best if left to sit for 15 minutes for flavors to blend.

Cranberry Almond Oatmeal

This is my go-to breakfast on cold mornings or on days when I’m going to be busy. It really is a powerhouse meal and is as equally satisfying. Mix up the fruit – go for dried cherries instead of cranberries or even fresh banana and strawberries…switch almonds for walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios.

Once stirred, the cranberries soften and plump up.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 serving of oatmeal
  • 2 Tbs almonds, chopped/slivered
  • 2 Tbs dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbs half-n-half
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

~  Make oatmeal according to package directions (I cheat and use instant steel-cut oatmeal). Add the rest of the ingredients, adjusting to taste.

Tzatziki Sauce

A simple sauce that is not only great on a gyro, but with roasted potatoes, as a dressing for heartier salads (especially those with grains), or as a dip.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups of greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of cucumber, shredded & drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed/grated
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs white wine vinegar, red works too
  • 1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

~ Shred cucumber with a cheese grater over a thick paper towel; fold the grated cucumber in a paper towel and squeeze over the sink. Place into a small bowl.

~ Grate garlic with a zester, or use a garlic press so you don’t get big chunks in the sauce, over the bowl.

~ Mix everything else into the bowl and refrigerate. Lasts for a 3-4 days.

Crab Cakes

This list of ingredients may seem daunting, but the only cooking involved here is baking your little cakes at the end. It’s a mix-all-into-a-bowl and throw it in the oven kind of night. Add some corn on the cob on the side and a green salad, and you’ve got yourself an apocalyptic masterpiece.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt / 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 lbs. crab meat, fresh
  • 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, diced small
  • 1/4 parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbs capers
  • cooking spray

DIRECTIONS:

~ Turn oven to 400-degrees. Because this is a favorite zombie recipe, we’re just going to throw it all into a bowl. I mix the wet ingredients into a bowl first, starting with the juice of one lemon through pepper. Then stir in your dry ingredients, crab meat through capers.

~ Form crab mixture into a ball in your hands, about 1/3 cup each, and flatten into a fat pancake. Place onto an oiled cookie sheet and give each patty a spritz of cooking spray on top so they brown nicely.

~ Bake 8-10 minutes on each side.

 

Vegetarian Sausage Gyros

There is enough spice and kick to this meal, you won’t miss the meat. In fact, your zombies might even ask you what kind of meat it is. For reals.

Even though the tzatziki sauce ups the ingredient list on this recipe, most ingredients are common and can top other great dishes, such as roasted potatoes or dressings for salads. My zombies love it as a dip.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pita bread
  • 3-4 vegetarian spicy sausage, sliced 1/3 lengthwise (I used grain sausage, Italian flavor)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 English cucumber, 1/3 grated & drained – 2/3 chopped
  • 3 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups tzatziki sauce
    • 1 1/2 greek yogurt
    • 1/2 cup grated cucumber (strained through a paper towel)
    • 2 Tbs olive oil
    • 1 Tbs white wine vinegar
    • 1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped
    • 1 tsp garlic, pressed or grated on zester – not chopped
    • 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

~ Make the tzatziki sauce first so flavors can blend. Make sure the grated cucumber is drained by squeezing it inside a paper towel to release juice. The garlic needs to either be pressed in a garlic presser or use a lemon zester to finely mince. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and keep refrigerated.

~ Cut the vegetarian sausage into strips; I sliced my lengthwise into thirds about 1/4 inch, but you could cut diagonal at 1/4 inch too. Heat in a pan until slightly browned/charred, 2 minutes each side.

~ Warm pita bread in microwave, 30 seconds. Assemble gyro: spinach, tomato, cucumber, red onion, sausage strips, and a few spoonfuls of tzatziki.