Chicken Pesto Pasta with Asparagus

Chicken Pesto Pasta with Asparagus

The other week I received a gift package in the mail containing a vast array of healthy mixes and sauces. To get a feel for these new products, I decided to try out the classic pesto sauce first.

The pesto mix (and most of the others) are very simple. Basically dried herbs and some spices. I’m sure dishes would taste much better with say pesto made from fresh basil instead of dried, but for someone who gets home tired from work this worked out just fine.

I like that there is not a lot of fat or sodium included in the mix. This allows the user to choose if they want a healthier or more decadent dish. Of course for my chicken pesto pasta with asparagus I leaned towards the healthier side.

According to the directions you can use water instead of butter for the pesto sauce. I was very skeptical, water = butter?! But I have to say, I didn’t even miss the butter. There was more than enough taste with the chicken, herbs, and spices.

Bottom line: This was a great dinner and I’m looking forward to trying out the rest of my new pantry stash!

2 pieces chicken breast
2 cups dry whole wheat penne pasta
1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus
1/2 package of dry pesto sauce mix (0.25 oz.)
1/2 to 3/4 cup pasta water
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

The main ingredients in the pesto mix that I used were: Basil, garlic, Romano cheese, salt, and parsley.

Boil the dry pasta in water with 1 Tbsp of salt. Cut the chicken and asparagus into bite sized pieces. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp of garlic salt. In a large pan, lightly brown the chicken in just a teaspoon or so of olive oil. When the chicken is cooked, add the asparagus to the pan.

After cooking the chicken and asparagus for a couple minutes, add in the pasta water, pesto mix, and 2 tsp of olive oil. Finally, add the pasta in with any other additions you want, such as red chili flakes or a little grated Parmesan cheese.

This chicken pesto pasta with asparagus is made healthier by using whole wheat pasta. But the majority of the calorie and fat savings comes from using water instead of butter in the pesto mix. I had my reservations, but it worked!

7 comments   -   February 18, 2008

1 rowena { 02.18.08 at 10:05 am }

Your note on getting home from work is a good point–often there’s not much energy left to be getting creative in the kitchen. I’m happy enough that those days are over….I was a fiend for simply ordering takeout and never got anywhere near as much fresh veggies that I should have!

2 Kevin { 02.18.08 at 4:18 pm }

That pasta with pesto and asparagus looks nice and tasty and fresh.

3 made healthier { 02.18.08 at 11:48 pm }

Hi rowena,
Yes, last week was one of those weeks for me – just glad it was over. On to hopefully a better week! :)

Hi Kevin,
Thanks, I did enjoy it!

4 White On Rice Couple { 02.19.08 at 2:23 pm }

Can I be a friend of your friend too? You have enough spices there to make tons of tasties! Penne pasta is one of my weaknesses and these look so good covered in all those spices.

5 made healthier { 02.19.08 at 10:45 pm }

Hi White on Rice Couple,
Like both of you I also love spices. A great way to get tasty food when cutting back on other not so healthy ingredients.

And by the way – I really like your Art of Spicing post, great stuff ! 😉

6 Deborah { 10.16.09 at 1:31 am }


7 OzKar { 10.05.12 at 8:59 am }

The weather’s getting colder and I’m looking for some healthier comfort food. This recipe fit the bill. Though I make my own pesto, I use olive oil instead of butter because it keeps longer and tastes every bit as good (IMHO).
The local spice shop sells a dry pesto seasoning, which I may also try to cut down on the fat.

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