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Thursday, October 21, 2010

For the Love of Basil

Before writing this post, I did lots of research on the herb, basil. There is so much to learn about this plant, which is a member of the mint family. Did you know that basil actually has antibacterial qualities? The oil from basil leaves actually has the ability to inhibit growth of certain bacteria that are very resistant to antibiotic drugs (based on research studies). In addition, basil also acts as an anti-inflammatory, providing relief for those with certain types of arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Who ever would have thought that this herb wasn't only delicious, but good for you too? It is also a good source of Vitamin K, A, iron, and calcium. So next time you eat a caprese salad or some pesto spread on crusty, Italian bread, know that you are eating something healthy, as well as tasty.
So, for the love of basil, I decided to try a new recipe: Chicken Fettuccine with Pesto Cream sauce. The pesto is not too overpowering in this dish. If you've never had pesto before, this is a good way to try it!

Chicken Fettuccine with Pesto Cream Sauce


1 1/2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken tenders
Half pint heavy cream
1/2 c. (packed) fresh basil leaves, stems removed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2- 1 1/2 inch cubes fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. fettuccine
salt & pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil


1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan. Tenderize chicken tenders on a cutting board. (If you don't have a tenderizer, use a fork.) Cut chicken into small strips. Add to hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until brown and cooked through.
2. Cook fettuccine noodles in salted water according to packaging.
3. In a food processor, pulse together basil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese until a chunky paste forms.
4. Add heavy cream to chicken and bring to a low simmer. Add pesto mixture and stir into sauce. Cook on low for a few minutes (sauce will thicken slightly.)
5. Drain pasta and add to chicken and sauce mixture. Toss all ingredients to combine.

Alissa's notes: If you don't feel like making your own pesto (which usually has pine nuts or some type of nut in it) you can buy it pre-made at the grocery store. I swear by my Deni 56-blade meat tenderizer. It makes every piece of meat I use it on really, really tender. If you have leftover basil, you can store it wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic bag and it should last 4 days in the refrigerator. I took leftovers of this meal to work the next day for myself and a coworker (I didn't want to see her eat another peanut butter and jelly sandwich!) This is what I found at the end of the day:

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