A Quick Dinner Between Stops: Tomato, Asparagus, & Pesto Salad with Chicken

A Quick Dinner Between Stops: Tomato, Asparagus, & Pesto Salad with Chicken

It pays to plan ahead. I get mocked for it all the time, but I don’t care. Last weekend I spent the afternoon making pesto out of the abundance of basil that is all over the place this time of year. It’s quick, simple, fragrant, and delicious. Just 5 ingredients: basil, garlic, toasted nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. I make it in the food processor, package it in handy-size containers, and stow it in the freezer for later. It’s amazing how often prepared pesto can get me out of a weeknight jam when there is only 20 minutes to make dinner before I have to run out the door for a client appointment, board meeting, or what have you.

All these veggies pair nicely with pesto on their own, so I thought I might as well toss them all together. Same goes for the chicken. I seasoned the chicken breasts with just simple salt and pepper, instead of doing anything that would compete with the pesto.

In an effort to add a little body to the sauce (which is really just pesto), I cook the orzo as I would a grain – a 2:1 ratio of liquid to orzo (when it’s finished cooking, it looks like a pot of rice). That way I can use all the starchy goodness that comes from the pasta when it cooks to give the sauce a little more heft. Cooking it in chicken stock just imparts that much more flavor. The only thing the recipe lacks is some crusty bread to go with it (which I happened to have on hand).

I know this is short, but that’s all the time I have – I’m running back out the door.

Tomato, Asparagus, & Pesto Salad with Chicken

A healthy and great-tasting dinner you can have on the table in 20 minutes. Prepared pesto saves the day again.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Scott Duncan, ©2015

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 T olive oil divided
  • 1 C orzo
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 lb asparagus trimmed and cut into 2” pieces
  • ½ C frozen corn thawed
  • ¼ C prepared pesto
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add chicken stock, orzo, and salt & pepper to taste.
  • Simmer until al dente, stirring occasionally. Most of the liquid will be absorbed by the orzo.
  • While orzo is simmering, preheat skillet over medium high heat.
  • Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper.
  • Add 1 T olive oil to skillet and sauté chicken 6-8 minutes per side.
  • Remove from pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
  • As chicken rests, add remaining olive oil to same pan and sauté asparagus for 4-5 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine grape tomatoes, corn, pesto, asparagus, and orzo (with remaining chicken stock).
  • Toss to combine and check seasonings.
  • Slice chicken and serve atop orzo salad.

 

This post is reblogged from my earlier site, Inexpensive Eating

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