by Chef Michael Smith 2017
Running out of time to cook vegetables? You can make this delicious dish in the time it takes you to boil water and cook pasta. You just need a few delicious timesavers. Tricks like a simple pesto built on the snappy flavour of arugula or the convenience of a store-bought rotisserie chicken. And it doesn’t take long to melt bell peppers. Save time and fill Half Your Plate with vegetables!
Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers
for the pasta
1 box of your favourite pasta
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 bell peppers, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
1 rotisserie chicken, fully cooked, pulled and shredded, bones discarded
for the pesto
a large 10-ounce tote of fresh arugula
1 cup or so of roasted cashews, almonds or pine nuts
2 or 3 garlic cloves
the juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 cup of your very best olive oil
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a full furious boil then stir in your pasta choice.
While you wait sauté the peppers. Splash the oil into your heaviest skillet over medium high heat, toss in the peppers and sauté until their texture soften, colours brighten and flavours develop. Cover tightly, constantly jump the pan and gradually lower the heat to prevent scorching as the peppers soften.
Meanwhile make the pesto. Cram the arugula, garlic, nuts, cheese, lemon and olive oil into your food processor. Puree the works smooth.
Cook the pasta until al dante, tender yet still pleasingly chewy. Mostly drain the noodles leaving them in the pot with some of the cooking water for the sauce, just a cup or so. Add the pesto, melted bell peppers and shredded chicken. Stir the works until thoroughly combined. Serve and share!
The word ‘pesto’ means ‘paste.’ Any puree of green herbs or leaves is thus considered a pesto. Traditionally Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and expensive pine nuts are included for flavour. You can save a bit of your shopping budget by using other equally smooth and delicious nuts.
Omit the rotisserie chicken if you prefer a hearty vegetarian dish, instead try adding a can of well rinsed chickpeas. | You can also skip the chicken and substitute a few slices of crisp Italian bacon, pancetta or proscuitto. | For best results always use true Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, it may cost a touch more but it’s worth it. Nothing beats its real flavour. | Bell peppers slowly cooked will eventually melt into a deliciously tender stew of concentrated sweet flavour.