I'm betting you can tell we eat a lot of chicken in our house, because this week I have another recipe that involves chicken. However, this is a very easy one to make vegetarian and even vegan, because all you do is replace the chicken with roasted vegetables (or tofu or Quorn if you like). This recipe makes a lovely creamy pesto without all the cheese and oil used in a normal pesto and with all the goodness of avocado.
Avocado Pesto Tagliatelle with Italian Style Chicken (or Roasted Veg)You could make this recipe even healthier by swapping out the tagliatelle for courgetti or another spiralized vegetable, but this is one of the few dishes where I prefer actual pasta. The tagliatelle takes the creamy pesto so well.
The pesto is the most amazing bright green colour thanks to the basil and the avocado, which makes my inner child so very happy :).
The pesto will store, but not for too long and it will go brown unless kept cold and sealed. I used the leftovers of mine on crackers the next day after covering it in cling film and storing it in the fridge. It was still lovely, but aim to use this quickly for best results.
For the pesto
- 1 large avocado (make sure it is ripe)
- 31g fresh basil leaves (this is one packet from Morrisons :) - the original recipe I used said 1 cup)
- 50g (1/3 cup) Pine Nuts
- 3 cloves of garlic (I use the squeezy stuff :))
- 1 lemon
- 2 tblspns extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the chicken
- 2 chicken breasts
- Italian seasoning (I use a pre-made spice mix from Morrisons called "Italian Seasoning", but to make it: dried basil, dried oregano, dried rosemary, dried marjoram, dried thyme, dried sage, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder - all in equal amounts)
- 1 tblsp oil for frying
or For Roasted Veg
- 1 red pepper (bell pepper, capsicum)
- 1 yellow pepper (bell pepper, capsicum)
- 1 green pepper (bell pepper, capsicum)
- 1 courgette
- 2 large mushrooms
- 2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
- Italian Seasoning
- Cook your pasta and leave in cold water (pasta is much better for you if you cook it, cool it down and then refresh it just before you use it).
- Take the chicken breasts and butterfly them (this page shows you how).
- Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the Italian seasoning.
- Heat the oil in the pan on a high heat and cook the chicken on both sides until it goes golden brown (the caramelisation gives extra flavour).
- Turn down the heat, put on a lid and allow the chicken to cook through completely until there is no pink left - shouldn't take more than a minute or two.
- Leave to rest in the pan with the lid on (this makes sure it is juicy).
or For Veg
- Heat the oven to 240C (230 fan)/475F/Gas 9
- Chop all the vegetables into bite sized peices.
- Put the oil in a roasting pan and turn all the veg in the oil to coat.
- Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
- Cook for approx 45 mins or until tender (start the pesto just before done).
- Peel the avocado and cut into pieces (this page shows you the best way to do it without slicing your fingers).
- Juice the lemon (I use a tea strainer to make sure there are no pips or bits in my juice).
- If you're using whole cloves of garlic, chop them roughly.
- Place all the ingredients of the pesto, apart from the salt and pepper into a large bowl or your food processor and blend until smooth. (I found a stick blender was much better at breaking up the basil leaves, but if you like bits in your pesto, use the food processor - you may need to add a little water if the pesto is too thick, but remember that it will loosen a bit when added to the hot pasta).
- Add salt and pepper to taste (I used just a tiny bit of salt).
- Refresh your pasta with boiling water from the kettle, drain and place back in the saucepan.
- Add the pesto to the saucepan and mix with the pasta (the little bit of water that always clings to pasta will loosen the pesto).
- If using slice the chicken breasts into bite size pieces.
- Place the pesto pasta in bowls with the chicken breast or roasted vegetables scattered on top.