A simple, pasta dish that is a quick, easy, and delicious weeknight dinner – whole wheat penne is coated in mascarpone cheese, tossed with baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with pesto and grilled chicken.
This recipe is another great example of how to use up ingredients you have lurking in the fridge! I am notorious for buying bags of baby spinach and then not using it all up before it goes back. There ALWAYS seems to be a jar of sun-dried tomatoes handy and this particular occasion we happened to have about 3/4 of a container of mascarpone and about 3/4 of a container of store-bought pesto to use up!
Because this pasta just requires the pasta to be boiled and the chicken to be grilled, then everything else gets tossed together with the warm pasta and a bit of pasta water, it’s a great option in the heat of summer. There is no oven and very little cooking required! With the chicken on top, this makes a hearty meal for several nights, however, omitting the chicken easily turns this into a great side dish for your next summer barbecue!
Speaking of summer barbecue, Remington broke out the smoker for the first time this year over the Memorial Day weekend. We had our good pals, the Brownes, over for a delicious pork loin that he brined in a bourbon salt bath, rubbed with a tasty spice blend and then smoked for several hours with peach wood! It was deee-licious! We served it up with Skinnytaste’s barbecue sauce, a salad, some simple creamed corn, and this warm macaroni salad. Made for a great Brown(e) foodie gathering!
I am so ready for more fun cookouts like that and more excuses for the hubs to use his smoker and the grill! I love outdoor cooking and enjoying the sunshine, although I could do without the 90+ high humidity days we are already experiencing and those dreaded mosquito pests…anywho here’s the recipe for ya!
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 1 lb whole wheat penne
- 1 (7oz) container mascarpone cheese
- 1 (7oz) container store bought pesto (I used Trader Joe's Genova Pesto)
- 1/2 cup packed baby spinach (approx 2/3 of a 6oz bag)
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
- salt & pepper
Lightly pound out the chicken to an even thickness. Season with salt & pepper. Grill on medium high heat until cooked through.
Boil pasta according to box instructions.
Set aside 1 cup of pasta water before draining pasta. Drain pasta, do not rinse.
Toss hot pasta with cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes to melt cheese and wilt spinach. Slowly add 1/4 cup of hot pasta water at a time until cheese is thinned out enough to create a "sauce". Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle with pesto and top with grilled sliced chicken.
Notes: I did not have full containers of mascarpone or pesto, so I used what I had, which was approximately 3/4 of each package. Using a full container would be fine. I did not use the entire cup of pasta water, only about 1/2 cup. Slowly add it until you have your desired consistency and toss any leftover.
Enjoy! <3 K&R