Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad.

Hi, I was thinking the other day, where would we be, in our busy lives, without Pasta? Since there are so many dishes you can make using Pasta. And so today I have this Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad to share with you.

Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - delicious, nutritious and so easy to make!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – delicious, nutritious and so easy to make!

 

This dish takes no more than 30 minutes to make from start to finish! It’s packed full of lean chicken and crammed with crunchy veggies. Also, if you left the chicken out you could easily make this as a vegetarian dish.

Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - crammed full of crunchy veg!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – crammed full of crunchy veg!

 

Everything about this dish makes it perfect for a quick, easy, mid-week meal, or you can make it ahead, keep it in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to three days. Also it has to be one of the easiest meals ever, prepare in advance when you have a bit of time, or cook from scratch and have it on the table in 30 minutes!

Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - perfect for mid-week mealtimes!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – perfect for mid-week mealtimes!

 

Recipe : Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad serves 4-6 adults

500g/1lb Packet Dried Pasta – I used fusilli

500g/1lb Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts

1  Jar ready made Pesto Sauce – I use 190g jar Classic Pesto from Filippo Berio 

150g/5oz Sugar Snap Peas

1 Small Red Onion

1 Yellow Bell Pepper

225g/8oz Cherry Tomatoes

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Optional – Fresh Basil Leaves

Method : Making the Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad

First of all, fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt, the pasta and cook according to package instructions.

In a separate pan place the chicken breasts – if very large cut in half first. Add cold water to just cover the chicken. Bring to a gentle simmer and poach for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. I take the largest piece out, cut through the thickest part with a knife and if the chicken is white – not pink, I know it is cooked.

As soon as the pasta is cooked, drain and tip into a large bowl.

Immediately drizzle over the Olive oil and toss the pasta so that it doesn't clump together.
Immediately drizzle over the Olive oil and toss the pasta so that it doesn’t clump together.
Add the jar of pesto sauce and mix thoroughly, ensuring all the warm pasta is coated.
Add the jar of pesto sauce and mix thoroughly, ensuring all the warm pasta is coated.

 

Remove the poached chicken breasts, once cooked and place on a plate to cool slightly.

Into a pan of boiling water add the sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under a cold tap to halt the cooking process.

Chop the cherry tomatoes in half, dice the red onion and yellow pepper.

Add all the veggies to the pasta.
Add all the veggies to the pasta.

 

When the chicken is cool enough to handle chop into bite sized pieces.

Add the chicken and then mix well. You now have .......
Add the chicken and then mix well. You now have …….
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - delicious, nutritious and so easy to make!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – easy and delicious!

Finally, scatter over fresh Basil leaves and then serve warm as is, or refrigerate for a delicious cool Summer salad on a hot day!

Place any leftovers in an airtight container, refrigerate and eat within 3 days.

Since this salad is very versatile, you can add whatever veggies you have on hand. While I like to use the best seasonal produce available, omit the chicken for a great vegetarian meal.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad you may also like these:

Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad 

FF Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad
Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad

Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta 

FF Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad
Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta

Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo 

FF Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad
Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo

I love the versatility of pasta and how it can be used is so many quick and easy dishes. Especially as a busy mum, having meals that can be prepared in advance is a huge bonus. While the weather continues to be extremely hot, here in the South East of England, making dinner first thing in the morning and stashing it away in the fridge seems to take the pressure off when it comes to mealtimes.

Finally, whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.

Sammie x

No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

 

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Easy Tex Mex Chicken

Hi, have I got the easiest, quickest meal for you? Yep, I have – Easy Tex Mex Chicken!

Easy Tex Mex Chicken tipped into a pan, ready for the oven.
Easy Tex Mex Chicken tipped into a pan, ready for the oven.

I am talking 5 minutes prep in the morning. Leave in the fridge all day and then throw in the oven for 45 mins before you want to eat. I told you it was Easy!! This delicious dish is fab served in Tortilla Wraps Fajita style, or alternatively, as I have, with potato wedges – well if you’ve got the oven already on…..

Oh my, this Easy Tex Mex Chicken served with wedges - delish!
Oh my, this Easy Tex Mex Chicken served with wedges – delish!

 

Recipe : Easy Tex Mex Chicken serves 5-6

750g/1.5lb Boned Chicken Breasts (approx 5)

1 Large Spanish Onion

3 Peppers – the colours are up to you!

1 Packet Fajita Seasoning – alternatively use 3 tsp Fajita seasoning

2 tbs Olive Oil or Rapeseed Oil – I use Kentish Oils

Method :

Pat dry the chicken breasts using kitchen paper.

Drying the chicken makes a real difference to the cooked dish.
Drying the chicken makes a real difference to the cooked dish.

 

Cut up the chicken into bite sized chunks (I used scissors) and place in a large, freezer bag.

With these 3 ingredients Easy Tex Mex Chicken is just that, EASY!
With these 3 ingredients Easy Tex Mex Chicken is just that, EASY!

 

Pour a couple of glugs of Olive Oil over the diced chicken then tip in the contents of a Fajita mix.

Massage the seasoning into the chicken.
Massage the seasoning into the chicken.

Next it’s time to get chopping!

Ooh so pretty. Choose whichever colour peppers are your favourite and...
Ooh so pretty. Choose whichever colour peppers are your favourite and…

 

Chop the Peppers and Onion so they are about the same size.
Chop the Peppers and Onion so they are about the same size.

Pop the chopped veggies into the freezer bag with the seasoned chicken and smoosh about a bit so they are covered in the spicy oil.

Easy Tex Mex Chicken in a bag!!
Easy Tex Mex Chicken in a bag!!

 

I prepared the Easy Tex Mex Chicken in the morning and then stashed it in the fridge until dinner time.

To cook, tip the contents of the freezer bag into a shallow oven proof dish. Place in a preheated oven 200C/185C fan and cook for 45 minutes.

Easy Tex Mex Chicken with softened peppers and caramelised onions - delish!
Easy Tex Mex Chicken with softened peppers and caramelised onions – delish!

 

To serve either warm some soft tortillas and load up fajita style, or, as I did tonight simply popped in some Baked Garlic Herb Potato Wedges . Since the oven is on it makes sense.

Well that’s dinner sorted!!

Enjoy how easy this feast is!

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne

Hello, I really hope you enjoy this post – Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne.  It’s extremely easy to make, there’s no need to precook the lasagne sheets.  This lasagne is also a lighter version than the traditional beef lasagne.  If you wanted to really cheat you could buy good cheese sauce, but it’s not a complicated process to whip up your own!

Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne - delish!
Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne – delish!

This is a perfect make ahead meal as it only gets better the longer the lasagne sits. It will keep, unbaked, in the fridge for 4 days and double wrapped in cling film, again unbaked, it can be frozen for up to 3 months.  It is also the perfect, portable meal.  Ideal for delivery to a new mum, a family going through tough times or a bring and share meal with friends.  Truly an all-in-one feasting dish!!!

A perfect, portable meal for sharing with others.
A perfect, portable meal for sharing with others.

By substituting the beef, usually used in Lasagne, with minced Chicken, the resulting baked Lasagne becomes a lighter dish. Not lighter in calories, with the delicious four cheese sauce – but not as heavy on the stomach and a delicious change from the norm!  The four cheese sauce was simply me raiding the fridge for leftover Christmas cheese!!!

The Four Cheese Sauce tops of this lasagne perfectly!!
The Four Cheese Sauce tops of this lasagne perfectly!!

I realise that minced Chicken is not  available everywhere, minced Turkey is a great substitute.  Otherwise processing skinless chicken breasts, thighs or a combination in a food processor would be another way to make your own chicken mince.  Alternatively, chopping up chicken with a sharp knife would work and give the lasagne added texture.

Recipe : Serves 6-8 portions.

Chicken Lasagne Sauce

450g/1lb  Chicken Mince

1  Large White Onion

2tbsp  Olive Oil

2  Celery Stalks (the larger outside stalks)

1  Green Pepper (washed, deseeded and finely diced)

2-3  Carrots (peeled and finely diced)

3  Garlic Cloves – minced

3 x 400g  Chopped Tinned Tomatoes

2tbsp  Tomato Puree

1tsp  Dried Mixed Herbs (or fresh basil/oregano/parsley/thyme – to taste)

1tsp  Sugar

Salt and Ground Black Pepper – to taste

Cheese Sauce :

3tbsp  Butter

3tbsp  Plain White Flour

750-800ml. Whole Milk

6oz  Hard Cheese (I used a 50/50 mixture of Mature Cheddar and Swiss Cheese)

125g  Riccota

250g. Mozzarella (drained)

1 tsp  Nutmeg – freshly grated if poss

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste.

Butter – For Greasing the Lasagne Dish

1 packet Dried Egg Lasagne Sheets 375g – NO NEED TO PRECOOK!!!

Method: Chicken Lasagne Sauce

Finely chop/dice the onion/celery/green pepper and carrots.  Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes over a medium heat until the onions just start to turn translucent.  Add the diced celery to the pan and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes, just until the celery starts to soften.  Push the onions and celery to one side of the pan and add the Chicken mince to the other side (if you don’t have a large sauté pan, remove the onions and celery, into a separate dish and then add the Chicken to the pan).  Cook the chicken, using a wooden spatula to break up the mince so big clumps of meat don’t form.

Having a large sauté pan means you can cook all the ingredients in one go!!!
Having a large sauté pan means you can cook all the ingredients in one go!!!

Unlike beef mince, the Chicken mince will get lighter as it cooks. I don’t cook the Chicken until it is browned, just until it is cooked through (lighter colour).  Now add the carrots/green pepper and also the minced garlic (I use a garlic press!!).

Mix all the veggies and garlic with the Chicken mince. Inhale the gorgeous aroma!
Mix all the veggies and garlic with the Chicken mince. Inhale the gorgeous aroma!

When all the veggies and garlic are well mixed add the tomatoes (rinse each can out with water, fill the can almost to the top and add that to the pan as well), tomato purée, dried or fresh chopped herbs. Give everything a good stir add the sugar and add salt 1/2tsp and a good grinding of black pepper.  Turn the heat to medium/low and leave to gently bubble away on the stove for an hour, stirring occasionally.

This gorgeous Chicken, vegetable and tomato sauce just bubbles away happily on the stove! Pop the kettle on for a cuppa!!!!
This gorgeous Chicken, vegetable and tomato sauce just bubbles away happily on the stove! Pop the kettle on for a cuppa!!!!

Method: Four Cheese Sauce

Into a medium heavy based pan add the butter. Over a medium heat melt the butter until just sizzling. Add the flour and keep stirring as the two become a paste. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, this removes any floury taste.

This is what the butter and flour should look like.
This is what the butter and flour should look like.

Now gradually start adding the milk, approx 50mls at first and stir vigorously. The milk will become incorporated into the flour/butter paste making it a thicker past. Keep adding small amounts of milk, stirring continuously.

The sauce will become very thick. DON'T WORRY!!!!
The sauce will become very thick. DON’T WORRY!!!!

Now you can add larger amounts of milk, keep stirring, lumps will form, if you want to you can switch to a whisk at this stage (I do!). Keep stirring and adding the milk until all the milk has been added and you have a beautiful, lump free white sauce. The sauce should be thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.

No lumps here - if you squint!!!!!!
No lumps here – if you squint!!!!!!

Remove the pan from the heat and add the Ricotta and all the other cheese (except the mozzarella), which if you are a patient person you certainly may grate. I almost never bother to grate, I just chop the cheese into smallish (1/2″) cubes and the sauce turns out fine.

The Ricotta gets dumped in and then add the hard cheeses.
The Ricotta gets dumped in and then add the hard cheeses.

Stir vigorously. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. The Ricotta cheese will give the Four Cheese Sauce a slightly grainy texture – DON’T WORRY – that’s normal! If you’ve grated the cheeses they will melt into the sauce easily. With the cubed cheese the sauce will almost never become completely smooth – but that’s ok as it will when it’s baked in the oven later! Also the addition of freshly ground nutmeg not only elevates the flavour above and beyond, but please, if you can, grate your own nutmeg. I know I was lazy with the cheese but, freshly grated nutmeg is a million times better than pre-ground nutmeg, trust me.

Assembly :

You will need an oven proof rectangular dish.  Mine is  12″ x 8″ x 3.5″(deep) – measurements were taken from the top.  But you can always use an oval dish and break the lasagne sheets to fit the curves – I have made many lasagne dishes this way, or alternatively split between 2 small dishes. As long as the dish is ovenproof, this really is an adaptable recipe!!!

I always butter my lasagne dish, it makes the cooked lasagne much easier to dish up!
I always butter my lasagne dish, it makes the cooked lasagne much easier to dish up!

I’ve found, after making more than a gazillion – slight over exaggeration – lasagnes, that buttering the dish before hand not only helps when serving the cooked lasagne, but also, it doesn’t require 3 days soaking to get the stuck bits off of the dish!! It’s the little things you know???

These are dried lasagne sheets. Any brand will do!
These are dried lasagne sheets. Any brand will do!

I REALLY WASN’T JOKING, when I said that you don’t have to precook the lasagne sheets. I’ve used lots of different makes, some with ruffled edges, green spinach lasagne sheets, egg vs plain AND this works with ALL TYPES – I guess you could even use fresh lasagne sheets, you would need to cook the Chicken lasagne sauce for longer so that it was thicker – otherwise I can’t see it being an issue. If you try it please let me know how you get on?

Once you have buttered/oiled your dish place a layer of HOT Chicken lasagne sauce (check the seasoning and adjust if necessary) into the bottom of the dish, so that it is completely covered.

The first layer is down, time to start building!!!
The first layer is down, time to start building!!!

Next place enough lasagne sheets to cover the bottom layer – I got luck and this dish takes 4 exactly. I like the layers to meet or very slightly overlap.

If your lasagne sheets don't fit exactly, just snap bits off to adjust them.
If your lasagne sheets don’t fit exactly, just snap bits off to adjust them.

Repeat the sauce/lasagne sheet layering twice more finishing with a sheet layer.

All the bits and pieces of the lasagne sheets will be covered by the Four Cheese Sauce.
All the bits and pieces of the lasagne sheets will be covered by the Four Cheese Sauce.

Now pour the cooled cheese sauce all over the top of the lasagne sheets. I gently tap the dish to ensure any trapped air bubble rise to the surface.

Ooh this is going to be sooooo good - look at that yummy cheese sauce layer!
Ooh this is going to be sooooo good – look at that yummy cheese sauce layer!

This baby is still not finished!  Drain and slice the mozzarella.

The final gooey, stringy, adornment for this fab lasagne dish!
The final gooey, stringy, adornment for this fab lasagne dish!

And now arrange the mozzarella slice on top of the cheese sauce.

The Four Cheese Sauce tops off this lasagne perfectly!!
The Four Cheese Sauce tops off this lasagne perfectly!!

The Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne should be left, ideally for 4 hours, to allow the dried lasagne slices time to absorb moisture from both sauces. This dish can also be made 1-2 days in advance, wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge.

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 180C (165C fan oven). Place the lasagne dish onto a slightly larger baking tray; this dish can bubble up and over – it’s much easier to clean a baking sheet rather than scrub out the bottom of your oven!!!!!

Cook the lasagne for 1 1/2 hours until piping hot all the way through and gorgeously, golden brown.

Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne - delish!
Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne – delish!

Remove from the oven 10-15 minutes before serving. This allows the lasagne to cool slightly and hold it’s shape when being served.

This Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne is delicious on it’s own, served with a salad or garlic bread. It can be frozen at the pre-bake stage or in individual portions, wrapped tightly in foil and popped into the freezer. Or why not double the quantities and make an extra meal for the freezer?

If you try this recipe please let me know how you get on. Do you have alternative lasagne combinations that are scrumptious? If you do please share them.

But most of all if you know a new mum, or someone who has been ill for a while, or just a very busy family that you would like to bless, then this is THE perfect, portable, all in one meal for sharing!

As ever, remember food always tastes better when it’s shared. Happy Feasting.

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Turkey And Leek Pie

Hi there, thank you for stopping by to take a look at my Recipe for Turkey and Leek Pie, topped with mountains of Mash.  This is a fantastic recipe for using up leftover Turkey after Christmas or Thanksgiving. Alternatively you could use cooked chicken such as my Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken.

 

Crunchy mash topped pie, hiding chunks of Turkey in a delicious sauce - pass me a plate I'm hungry?!!!!

Waste not, want not

The News has been awash with statistics and reports of how much food we throw away, or waste as a nation.  Now I’m not suggesting you try to make a pie out of the gooey apple, fermenting at the bottom of the fruit bowl. Yet, lots of us eat turkey over the holiday period and roast chicken throughout the rest of the year. Therefore, having a delicious, easy recipe that uses up left overs makes both practical and economical sense.

We had a roasted turkey crown for Sunday dinner yesterday, it was seriously yummy. Although I was left with a complete, cooked turkey breast. While I enjoy cold turkey and chutney sandwiches, my aim was to create a meal out of the leftovers.

Today I decided to make this turkey and leek pie, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Alternative toppings for this pie could include; sliced potatoes,  flaky pastry, savoury crumble topping, herbed breadcrumbs.  If you try any of these please let me know how you get on?

Recipe : Turkey and Leek Pie serves 6

1 1/2 – 2 lb  (750g/1Kg) Cooked Turkey  – or chicken, cut into 1 inch/2.5cm chunks note: if the turkey or chicken has been frozen AFTER cooking the pie cannot be re-frozen

2  Medium Leeks

100g/4 oz  Butter (split in two)

1 tbsp  Olive Oil

2 tbsp  Vermouth or White Wine

1 tbsp  Plain White Flour

1/2 of a Chicken/Vegetable Stock Cube – I use Knorr

6tbsp  Whole Milk – alternatively you can use double cream (heavy cream)

1.5 Kg/3.5lb Peeled Potatoes (Maris Piper/Desiree or any floury potato suitable for mashing)

2  Sprigs Fresh Thyme

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method :

Preparing the mashed potato topping:

  • First of all peel and chop the potatoes, place in a saucepan and cover with water.
  • Add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and then simmer until tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Drain the potatoes, place them back into the saucepan with 2 tbsp of butter and a splash (3tbsp) of milk. Clamp on the lid and leave off the heat for 5 minutes.
  • Next, adding a good grinding of black pepper, mash the potatoes, set aside to cool.

Creating the pie filling:

  • Chop the leeks into small dice, rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Place 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • As soon as the butter melts add the leek to the pan.

Bright green, uncooked leeks. They fill the pan!!

  • Add a pinch of salt and sauté over a low heat. You don’t want the leeks to colour,  just to become soft and slightly translucent.

The sautéed leeks have lost their bright colour and shrunk in the pan as they've cooked!

  • Next add 1 tablespoon of flour, stirring so the chopped leeks are covered in the flour. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes.

The flour mixes with the butter and oil to thicken the sauce once the liquid has been added.

  • Add a splash of Vermouth or white wine. Mix thoroughly over a low heat, cooking for a couple of minutes.
  • Next add 3-4 tablespoons of milk and stir continuously.

The sauce will have a very thin consistency. Keep stirring!!!

 

  • The sauce will still be thin at this stage. Continue stirring. After a few minutes the sauce will thicken.

After a couple of minutes the sauce will thicken.

  • Crumble in half of a chicken stock cube. Alternatively dissolve the stock cube in a couple of tablespoons of hot water, then add to the pan.
  • As soon as the stock is incorporated have a quick taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to season.
  • Strip 2 fresh Thyme sprigs and add the leaves to the sauce.
  • Set to one side and allow to cool.
  • Cut the cold, cooked turkey (or chicken) into 1 inch chunks and place into a pie dish. Cover with the cold leek sauce.

Turkey chunks covered in leek sauce, flecked with Thyme leaves.

  • Spoon the mashed potatoes around the outside edge of the pie, working towards the centre.
  • Using a fork, ensure the mash seals the pie around the edge to stop any sauce leaking out during baking. Likewise ensure the potato topping covers the pie evenly with no gaps.
  • Ruffle up the surface. This ensures an extra crunchy topping once baked.

Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.

Storing, baking and serving the pie

  • At this stage the Turkey and Leek Pie can be wrapped in cling film and placed in the fridge for a couple of days until needed.
  • Alternatively, double wrap in cling and popinto the freezer for up to one month – defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating.
  • To bake the pie, preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan, 350F, gas mark 4.
  • Place the pie dish on to a baking sheet and place  in the middle of the oven.
  • Bake for 1 hour until bubbling around the sides, golden and crunchy on top and piping hot all the way through.
Scrumptious......
Scrumptious……

The ultimate comfort food. I like to serve this turkey and leek pie with steamed savoy cabbage.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Turkey And Leek Pie you may also like these:

Steak Leek And Ale Pie

FF Turkey And Leek Pie
Steak Leek And Ale Pie

Quiche Lorraine 

FF Turkey And Leek Pie
Quiche Lorraine – a great way to use up gammon, ham and bacon.

Roast Chicken Noodle Soup

FF Turkey And Leek Pie
Roast Chicken Noodle Soup

When I am creating a meal using leftovers, it gives me an extra buzz. Because not only am I reducing waste, an entirely new dish is being made. Especially over the holiday period, when large joints of meat are cooked there can be a temptation to simply bin any leftovers. Whereas having a few, simple recipes on hand can actually make it easy and fun preparing meals.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.

Sammie xx

No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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