I may have mentioned my love of basil here before, but seriously, I LOVE basil. I don't have much planting space - just a little balcony - but I am planning on planting only basil this year. Otherwise, I spend $4 a week on a 6 oz box of organic basil at Safeway, and I use all of it each week. So this recipe has become an instant favorite, as it incorporates a full cup of basil as well as another favorite, red peppers. Original recipe from here (via pinterest, of course), but I have changed it a bit to make it a little healthier.
1.5 cups penne pasta
1/8 cup olive oil
4 whole garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts
2-3 chopped roma tomatoes
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 cup fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4-1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cooked shredded chicken
Cook the pasta. Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the pine nuts and heat for another 1-2 minutes. Put the oil, garlic, and pine nuts into a food processor, then toss the tomatoes into the warm pan and let them break down just slightly (1-2 minutes, tops). Back at the food processor, pulse the warm oil mixture. Then add the parmesan and pulse again, then add the bell peppers, basil, salt and pepper and pulse until smooth. I like mine a little creamy, so I add a little Greek yogurt and milk, then pour it over the cooked and drained pasta. Stir it all together, then stir in the chicken and tomatoes. Top with chopped basil and parmesan cheese and serve.
Seriously, this stuff is awesome. And if your chicken is already cooked, it comes together in about 20 minutes. I love how much basil is in this (of course) and since I use whole wheat pasta, it is really filling. In the original recipe, she used cream instead of Greek yogurt and milk, and used 1/3 cup of oil, but I hate oily pesto and so I cut it down significantly. I also sometimes throw in a dash of hazelnut oil just for kicks, but that isn't really necessary.
Why? It's simple, delicious, and filling.