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Pesto Zucchini Chicken Pasta

by Alex Pavljuk

In need of an easy dinner? Maybe you are looking for an excuse to go to Trader Joe’s.

Look no further than this simple dinner that brings in a slew of different flavors and techniques that will be easy for beginners and simple for the more advanced college cook.

Ingredients & Measurements | Serves 1 to 4 People

  • Trader Joe’s Pesto Chicken Breasts (One Pack)
  • Zucchini (One Zucchini)
  • Broccoli (One Head)
  • Butter (Half a Stick)
  • Cherry tomatoes (Handful)
  • Pasta (fusilli or rigatoni works well)
  • Salt, Pepper, Dry Oregano, Dry Parsley, Red Pepper Flakes
  • Chicken Broth (Half Cup)
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • Olive oil
  • White Wine (Or Brandy/Whiskey)
  • Shredded Mozzarella (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Step One:

Start by cutting and setting aside one onion, one zucchini, broccoli and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and the zucchini into bite-sized pieces.

Step Two:

In a medium or large saute pan set to medium heat, start by heating up a few glugs of olive oil for frying. Once heated up and ready to fry, place as many pieces of chicken as desired in the pan. Cook thoroughly on both sides as you would a chicken cutlet. Once cooked, remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate until later. Do not throw out the oil, leave the pan alone for now.

Step Three:

In the pan you just cooked the chicken in, add a notch of butter and your onions to the pan. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper and cook on medium-low until soft and translucent (roughly five or 10 minutes).

Using a lid to cook the vegetables will help them soften faster. Once the onions have cooked down a bit, add in your zucchini and cook them using the same process as the onions (roughly five or 10 minutes).

The onions and zucchini should have released some liquid that will mix with the oil. That is the base for the sauce, it should be simmering. If stagnant, kick up the heat for a few minutes and then lower once simmering.

Step Four:

Add a splash of white wine (or whatever alcohol you have listed above) and then throw in the sliced cherry tomatoes and cook down (another five or 10 minutes). Once soft, take a wooden spoon (likely what you’ve been cooking with) and press the tomatoes until they burst. Now season with a few shakes of oregano, parsley and red pepper flakes and stir to incorporate.

Step Five:

During this time take the now-cooled chicken and slice it into bite-sized pieces.

If not entirely cooked through, feel free to fry the now-sliced chicken in a different pan coated in olive oil until no pink remains on medium heat.

Step Six:

Once mixed, add about a half cup of chicken broth to the pan. As you cook, the liquid may be absorbed and thicken: that’s what we want. But if it becomes too dry, feel free to add more. From here, add your sprigs of broccoli (as many as you want in the dish). Let those cook down for a few minutes and then add the chicken. Let the dish sit on low/medium to simmer and stir periodically.

Add broccoli and chicken to the sauce.
Alex Pavljuk | The Montclarion

Add broccoli and chicken to the sauce.
Alex Pavljuk | The Montclarion

Step Seven:

While the vegetable and chicken sauce simmers, bring a heavily salted pot of water to a boil and add in your pasta. Cook until al dente and then with a strainer move the pasta in batches to the sauce. This will allow excess pasta water to mix with the sauce, causing it to thicken.

Step Eight:

Once all pasta is strained, mix to incorporate and add a generous amount of pecorino romano cheese (you can also add the shredded mozzarella) and serve!

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