CREAM CHEESE PESTO PASTA WITH CHICKEN, FRESH MOZZARELLA & ROASTED TOMATO

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It’s me again with another pasta dish!

I just happen to love carbs … all kinds of carbs!

Sometimes I go for light healthy pasta recipes but most of the time, I go for creamy cheesy sauces that just melt in your mouth!

Cream Cheese, Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese is a mixture made in cheese heaven! The different flavors & textures of the 3 cheeses complement each other so well without being too greasy or heavy. Cheese heaven, right?

Roasted tomato is a whole story on its own! You won’t believe the sweetness you will taste; you won’t even believe that tomatoes can actually be that sweet! Seriously, what happens in the oven that everything I roast just becomes sweeter & way more delicious! Ever since I discovered the roasting technique & I simply throw everything in the oven.

To be honest guys, I am not a big fan of pesto sauce! I don’t know; I just always find it too strong for my taste buds BUT mixing it with cream cheese creates a lighter creamier version that I am deeply in love with!

This dish is a complete meal; pasta, chicken, cheese & greens (haha isn’t pesto made of basil leaves?)! What else do you need for lunch/dinner? It comes together in about 30 minutes yet looks so elegant (actually Christmas-y with those white, green & red colors) & tastes delicious!

CREAM CHEESE PESTO PASTA WITH CHICKEN, FRESH MOZZARELLA & ROASTED TOMATO

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the Roasted Tomato:

  • 3 medium tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper

For the Pasta Sauce:

  • 300 gm pasta shells
  • 250 gm chicken strips
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup water or stock
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 5 heaped tbsp pesto sauce*
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 mini balls fresh buffalo mozzarella crumbled or cut into halves*
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated

Directions

For the Roasted Tomato

  1. Preheat the oven at 200 C.
  2. In a bowl, mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper.
  3.  Toss the tomato with the above marinade; making sure all the tomato quarters are covered with the marinade. Spread the tomato into a single layer on a baking sheet (skin side down).
  4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes are soft & the skin is a little charred.
  5. Take out of the oven & set aside until the pasta is cooked.

For the Pasta Sauce 

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt then the pasta & cook until al dente. Drain the pasta reserving the water to use it in the sauce.
  2. Meanwhile, marinade the chicken strips with basil, cardamom, salt & pepper.
  3. Heat a non stick large pan over high heat until hot. Add olive oil & swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the chicken strips & cook until golden & almost cooked through.
  5. Deglaze the pan with half cup water/stock; scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get out those sticky brown pieces.
  6. Add the cream cheese, pesto & 1 ladle pasta water. Stir to dissolve the cheese & mix all the ingredients together into a smooth sauce.
  7. Add the pasta to the sauce pan & cook for about 2 minutes until the pasta gets coated with the sauce using as much pasta water as needed to make the sauce loose. Taste for seasoning (you probably won’t need salt as the pasta water is already salted).
  8. Top the pasta with roasted tomato quarters, fresh crumbled buffalo mozzarella & grated parmesan cheese.
  9. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. I use store bought pesto because I prefer it over homemade but you can substitute with homemade pesto if you want.
  2. You can find fresh buffalo mozzarella at Gourmet, Seoudi & Sunny Markets.
  3. If you don’t have fresh buffalo mozzarella, you can use the frozen shredded packs; bring the cheese to room temperature & sprinkle over the hot pasta to melt.
  4. If you are too lazy to roast the tomatoes, discard this step in the recipe & the pasta will still taste delicious.
  5. Mix the pasta with the sauce right before serving so that it doesn’t get sticky.

 

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