Food comes in such crazy shapes sometimes. Cavatappi pasta is one of those foods. It’s shaped like the darling curls I never had, a perfect corkscrew. Pasta dishes feed a crowd so when it came time to feed my family over the holidays I served this yummy dish and not only did it please everyone’s palette (even the most picky among us), but filled their bellies (and we’ve got some hearty appetites in this family) with even a little leftover. The leftovers were just as delicious, if not more flavorful as the seasonings blended with time.
I top the hot curly pasta with this Fresh Basil Pesto, a recipe I posted a couple summers ago. It’s a recipe I nabbed from my neighbor Jenna. She demonstrated it in a class I attended and I was hooked. I had to have the recipe and she graciously shared it and allowed me to post it. She taught me to freeze extra for a winter day. Well now it’s a winter day and I’m grateful I have it. (Winter fresh basil is not hard to find, just a little more pricey. Every grocery store carries big containers of it.) The pesto is processed with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, oregano and lemon juice; this magic concoction flavors everything it touches.
To up the protein in this dish I add chicken and chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese. I like to use rotisserie chicken because it has more flavor but cooked diced chicken breast works great too. A sprinkling of red pepper flakes keeps it a tad spicy, but not overpowering unless you need more, then be my guest (or feel free to squeeze sriracha sauce for good measure!!)
It’s a quick and easy dish that’s great when you’re short on time. Everyone loves it. It makes a boat-load and the ingredients are super easy to find. As far as the pesto is concerned, take the tip from my friend Jenna who makes a little extra and freezes it for up to six months. It thaws fast in the microwave so you can toss it with the cooked pasta, the pre-cooked chicken, mozzarella cheese and away you go in less than 20 minutes.
One Year Ago: Roasted Butternut Squash, Brown Rice and Quinoa Arugula Salad Two Years Ago: Light Clam Chowder
- Cavatappi with Chicken and Basil Pesto
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or can use toasted sliced almonds)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- 1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried parsley leaves
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 pound cooked and diced chicken (I use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken)
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella balls, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
- Combine all pesto ingredients (basil leaves through lemon juice) in container of an electric blender or food processor. Cover and process until smooth.
- Stir pesto into hot pasta and add chicken and mozzarella bites. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.
You might also enjoy: