On the menu:
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Creamy Roast Tomato Pasta and Kale and Cashew Pesto
Sometimes you don’t want haute cuisine. Sometimes you just want simple and to the point. And if that clears some leftovers and other random items from the fridge or freezer, all the better!
Those of you with keen observational skills (especially those rare few that read my posts all the way to the bit at the very bottom where I provide tips for storing or using leftovers), will have noticed that pasta is one of my favourite ways of using up leftovers.
Leftover Nduja Tomato Sauce and Squid filling from my stuffed squid made it into pasta. Leftover Celeriac, Chestnuts and Wild Mushrooms from my venison dish made it into spaghetti, which was an unexpected success!
I hate food waste. But supermarkets don’t tend to cater well for solo dwellers like me. This world of BOGOFs and multipacks is more geared up to a typical family of four. But if you buy per single item, or go for the cute “baby-versions”, you end up paying through the nose.
Which is not good news for a Dutch person as the Dutch like watching the pennies. And this particular one would rather splash the cash on something more worthwhile instead. But then, even the average sized cauliflower, broccoli or bag of frozen peas makes seemingly endless meals for one.
So it’s Ready Steady Cook in my house most days of the week. I’m always inventing dishes to use up the other half of that massive onion, the other pepper, the 2nd and 3rd leek in the bunch and that last handful of herbs. I’ll often mass-sous-vide fish or chicken and stick them in the freezer in individual vacuum-packs for later. My own home-made ready-meals.
The combination of flavours and textures of this particular leftover creation is worthy of a post in its own right though. And if you happen to have half a bag of kale and some cooked chicken left over from a Sunday Roast, you’ll thank me for it.
Kale and Cashew Pesto (makes approx. 300 ml – GF LC V RSF)
This is a lovely and versatile variation on the more common basil and pine nut pesto. Great stirred through pasta as it is, drizzled over salads or wherever you’d normally use pesto.
As this makes a large jar, I have to warn you: you will see this pesto appear in and over and under and through numerous dishes in my posts for the foreseeable.
It is optional with the chicken pasta, but adds a nice splash of colour and another delicious layer of flavour.
2-3 good handfuls of kale, ribs removed
1 small bunch of basil
1 small handful of cashew nuts
20 gr Parmesan cheese or vegetarian alternative
lemon juice to taste
Enough olive oil or rapeseed oil to amalgamate
Blitz everything except the oil in a blender or food processor. Pulse if you like to keep some texture. Gradually add enough oil to amalgamate to your liking.
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Creamy Roast Tomato Pasta (serves 2 – GF RSF)
Roasting enhances the flavour of out-of season tomatoes that lack the deep hit of a fresh summer tomato. It’s my favourite way of making a quick tomato sauce.
Just roast the tomatoes with some herbs, good oil and balsamic vinegar. Add some onion, garlic and/or fresh chili if you like. Then blitz the lot in a blender or food processor and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy sauce that beats any shop-bought jar hands down.
2 small chicken breasts or leftover cooked chicken
4 large tomatoes, halved
4-6 plump semi-dried tomatoes in oil, drained from oil and patted dry with kitchen paper
1-2 whole garlic, skin on
1 small red onion or shallot, peeled and cut into wedges
1 red or Romano pepper, ½ cut into rough chunks, the other ½ chopped into pea-sized cubes
½ leek, finely sliced
(GF) pasta or choice for 2
A good handful of kale, finely shredded
A good handful of frozen peas
2-3 tbsp ricotta (homemade or shop bought), crème fraiche, cream cheese or a creamy herb cheese such as Boursin plus a few tsp for serving
Grated zest and juice of a lemon
1-3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil, or oil from the semi-dried tomatoes
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
To serve: Kale pesto, fresh Parmesan, toasted pine nuts
Heat the oven to 200 C
If using whole chicken breast, either leave whole or shred or cut into bite sized pieces
Either way, marinate the chicken in a mix of lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 tbsp of oil, a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper for minimum 30 mins. Drain and pat dry.
Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion or shallot wedges and the roughly chopped half of the pepper in an oven dish. Season generously and toss with 1-2 tbsp oil and 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
If using raw whole chicken breast, wrap in alu foil and tuck in alongside.
Roast for 25-30 mins.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. Add the kale for the last 2 minutes. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water.
If you cooked the chicken with the tomatoes, set it aside to rest, still in its foil to keep warm.
Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and add to a food processor or blender together with the roast tomatoes, onion and pepper.
Either pulse a few times to to keep it chunky or blitz until smooth.
If using cooked whole chicken breast, turn the oven down to 180 C, wrap the chicken breasts in alu foil and reheat in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy-based casserole and fry the leek over medium heat for a minute or so. If using raw chicken chunks, add them now and fry for a few minutes.
Add the finely diced ½ of the pepper. Cook for another minute.
Add the tomato sauce and the peas. If using shredded cooked chicken, add this now to reheat.
After a couple of mins, melt the ricotta, cream cheese or crème fraiche through the sauce together with a few tbsp of the cooking water. Season to taste.
Stir the drained pasta through the sauce. pasta to the sauce.
Serve in deep bowls. Dot with a few blobs of the remaining, ricotta, cream cheese or crème fraiche. Add a good drizzle of the kale pesto and a sprinkling of Parmesan and toasted pine nuts.
If serving with whole chicken breast, slice at an angle and serve alongside.
Sous-vide option for the chicken breast
Remove any skin. Season each chicken breast and rub with a mixture of rapeseed oil and lemon zest. Vacuum seal in individual bags and cook for 1 ½ – 2 hrs in a waterbath at 60-63 C.
Either shock-cool in iced water and freeze for later, or use straight away.
If frozen, reheat in the waterbath at 60 C for 30-45 mins if defrosted, or 1 – 1 ¼ hr if from frozen.