I do not know where my mind has been recently. It obviously has too much to cope with at the moment so when time came to cook this recipe for chicken with creamy sun-dried tomato pesto sauce from Heidi at Foodie Crush I was lacking a couple of the key ingredients. Tricky to make creamy sun-dried tomato pesto sauce when you don’t have cream (well half and half). But not impossible as I discovered.
They say the necessity is the mother of invention, or in my case the mother of modification. Out when the half and half and in went the plain yoghurt. Not that you can get half and half in Australia or at least not that I know of. The cooking creams are pretty close in terms of fat content and I sometimes use these with milk when a recipe calls for half and half. I had yoghurt in the fridge so that is what I went with this time around. I made some other tweaks along the way and got a pretty damn good result even if I do say so myself.
But I had a few hiccups along the way. My chicken breast was quite thick and took ages to cook and my goats cheese was not inclined to crumble. I have had another go at making my adapted version of this recipe changing the chicken breast for some tenderloins and cooking the chicken first. Using tenderloin took a good 10 minutes off of the cook time. The time savings would probably have been less if I hadn’t had such a thick chicken breast the first time around. It seemed to take forever to cook but the last thing you want is pink chicken in your dinner.
I also stirred through the goats cheese rather than using it as a garnish given it wouldn’t crumble anyway. It was a creamier textured goats cheese than I normally buy hence the lack of crumble. But it was so lovely the way it coated the pasta and I would definitely recommend going down the creamy route if you are making this.
To get this meal on the table in lickety split time the first thing you want to do is get the pasta water on the boil – at least you do if your stove is as slow to heat up as mine. You want to pop the pasta on to cook around when the chicken is about to be turned. But if you put it on a bit earlier it isn’t a drama as at the very end when I was adding the spinach, I also threw the pasta in with the chicken to warm it through and coat it with the goats cheese.
The meal isn’t quite one pan as you cook the pasta in a separate pot. But I do love that this recipe incorporates veggies in the chicken cooking process as I am dreadful at doing additional side dishes. If you don’t have baby spinach on hand you could throw in some frozen peas that have been defrosted under the hot water tap and get a great result. I would just make sure they were fairly dry before adding them so as not to dilute the sauce.
The recipe below is creamy and cheesy but the sun-dried tomatoes add a sharpness and saltiness that makes sure the yoghurt and cheese don’t completely overwhelm everything. And it isn’t too heavy for this summer weather in Australia but will be lovely and comforting as Autumn rocks around.
As you may have guessed from the creamy, cheesiness of this recipe, this is not my lowest calorie recipe. It is about 600 calories. Not an everyday meal but it is not bad for every now again.
- 1/2 cup of fusilli pasta (about 45g)
- 150g of chicken tenderloin (skin off)
- 3 swiss brown mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- 1/2 tbs of olive oil
- 3/4 tsp of butter
- 1/3 cup of low fat plain yoghurt
- 45g of sun-dried tomato pesto
- 1/2 cup of baby spinach leaves
- 15g of goats cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish
- Put water on to boil and cook pasta as per packet instruction and drain when done.
- In a large frypan (skillet) heat 1 tsp of olive oil and the butter over a medium high heat.
- Season the chicken tenderloins with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes each side until cooked through and lightly golden.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and add the mushrooms and the remaining oil.
- Turn the heat down to medium.
- Cook the mushrooms for about 3 minutes until they start to caramelize.
- Add the yoghurt and sun-dried tomato pesto to the frypan and whisk the mushrooms, yoghurt and pesto together.
- Cook the mushroom, yoghurt and pesto mix for about 2 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan, heat through and allow the sauce to reduce, a couple of minutes.
- Add in the goats cheese and stir until is incorporated into the sauce, a minute or two.
- Add the spinach and pasta to the pan and ensure everything is mixed well together, coating the pasta with the sauce.
- Pop everything in a bowl and garnish with the parsley (I would skip the garnish if I wasn't photographing the meal).