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
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, less than 1 pack
- 250 gm chicken strips
- 1/8 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
- 3 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 cup cream
- 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
For the Roasted Tomato
- Preheat the oven at 200 C.
- In a bowl, mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper.
- 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).
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes are soft & the skin is a little charred.
- Take out of the oven & set aside until the pasta is cooked.
For the Pasta Sauce
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt then the pasta & cook until al dente. Drain the pasta reserving about 1 cup water to use it in the sauce.
- Meanwhile, marinade the chicken strips with basil, cardamom, salt & pepper.
- Heat a non stick large pan over high heat until hot. Add olive oil & swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add the chicken strips & cook until golden & almost cooked through.
- Deglaze the pan with half cup pasta water; scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get out those sticky brown pieces.
- Reduce heat to low, add the cream cheese, pesto & cream. Stir to dissolve the cheese & mix all the ingredients together into a smooth sauce. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for a couple of minutes until it thickens a bit.
- Add the pasta to the sauce & cook for a minute until the pasta gets coated with the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add little pasta water to make the sauce loose.
- Top the pasta with roasted tomato quarters, fresh crumbled buffalo mozzarella & grated parmesan cheese.
- Serve immediately.
- I use store bought pesto because I prefer it over homemade but you can substitute with homemade pesto if you want.
- You can find fresh buffalo mozzarella at Gourmet, Seoudi & Sunny Markets.
- 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.
- If you are too lazy to roast the tomatoes, discard this step in the recipe & the pasta will still taste delicious.
- Mix the pasta with the sauce right before serving so that it doesn’t get sticky.