400g Casarecce dried pasta
2 x chicken breasts, fat trimmed
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups basil leaves, fresh
80g pine nuts, lightly toasted
100g grated parmesan cheese, good quality, plus extra*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, good quality, plus extra
To make the pesto, process ingredients until smooth in a high powered food processor. You may need to add more olive oil if the pesto is too thick. Season with salt if you like, however the parmesan makes the pesto quite salty. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to packet directions or until al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile heat a fry pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil to a high heat. Using a meat tenderiser or a heavy based saucepan, bash the chicken between 2 sheets of baking paper until it is about 1.5 cm thick; season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place both chicken breasts in the fry pan, stop with a sheet of baking paper and place one or 2 stacked heavy saucpans on top. The weight of these will press the chicken into the pan and make it very crispy and moist. Cook on one side for 2.5 minutes roughly (it may need longer if your chicken is thicker); remove stacked pans and baking paper; flip the chicken, return the baking paper and saucepans and cook on the remaining side for 2.5 minutes or so. Remove and set aside to rest.
Return the pasta to the pot, with the spinach, 2/3 of the pesto and the 1/2 a cup of remaining cooking water and toss until combined for 3 minutes. You may need to add more cooking water to get the consistency you like. The pasta should be lovely and lose, and well coated.
Slice the chicken into 1 cm thick pieces.
To serve, divide the pasta between 4 plates, top with chicken slices and an extra grating of parmesan.
*The best quality parmesan cheese comes in a block, not pre-grated bags. Avoid pre-grated parmesan cheese as it dries out.
Step 2, add 1 cup of frozen peas to pasta
Step 2, add 1 bunch of 1 cm sliced asparagus to pasta