I know what you're thinking-- another grilled chicken and pasta recipe? Yes, I know, it appears I may be falling into a rut, but this recipe met so many of my needs yesterday that there was no way I wasn't going to make it.
I have a bunch of almonds on hand that I really wanted to use. I hate buying an ingredient that only a small amount is used and the rest ends up going to waste. I was planning make almond cookies, but then I came across an interesting recipe for tomato pesto in the most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated. Instead of the traditional basil and pine nut combo, this recipe calls for tomatoes and almonds.
I had leftover grilled chicken from this recipe that I needed to use. I thought it would be a nice addition to the pesto, along with some fresh spinach, to make it a complete meal.
I needed to make something for dinner that wouldn't heat the entire house. The temperature has been 100 degrees every day for a week and last night I was in no mood to really cook anything. Enter the already grilled chicken and a pesto sauce that didn't need to be cooked at all. The only thing I had to do was boil the spaghetti, which was quick.
This goes without saying, but I had a need to eat something that tasted good. And, oh boy, this recipe fit the bill. I think my old standby basil and pine nut pesto recipe may go into retirement for a while after trying the tomato and almond version.
Grilled Chicken with Tomato Pesto
Cook's Illustrated August 2009
1/4 cup slivered almonds
12 ounces tomatoes*
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb spaghetti or linguine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for passing
1 cup grilled chicken, diced
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a blender, combine the almonds, tomatoes, garlic, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes until smooth. Scrape down the sides and, with the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil.
Cook pasta following package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Return drained pasta back to the pot. Add the chopped spinach, grilled chicken, pesto, 1/2 cup pasta water and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and toss together. Serve immediately.
*I recommend using in season farmer's market tomatoes for the best flavor. If not, use cherry or grape tomatoes from the grocery store