|Gnocchi with Chicken and Pesto Cream Sauce
I came up with the idea for the recipe when I was walking to the grocery store last night to pick up a few things for dinner. I was trying to think of what ingredients I had at home to use in an upcoming dinner. Two things came to mind: a small chicken breast in my freezer and a jar of pesto in my pantry. While I like the flavor of pesto, I don’t find it all that appealing on its own, so I thought it’d be good if I could find a way to make it into a sauce, hence the pesto cream sauce.
I’ve kind of taken what I’ll call the Rachael Ray approach to my cooking. Meaning, I’m not too strict about measures and have taken to eyeballing most of my ingredients. Lastly, if you don’t fancy gnocchi, substitute with 8 ounces of your favorite short pasta (e.g. penne, rigatoni or cavatappi).
Gnocchi with Chicken and Pesto Cream Sauce
Prep time: 30 minutes start to finish
16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
8 to 12-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast, or two chicken breast halves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
¼ cup jarred pesto
½ pint (1 cup) heavy whipping cream or skimmed evaporated milk (for the health-conscious)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil for the gnocchi. Meanwhile, heat about one tablespoon of EVVO in a skillet over medium-high heat, and heat another teaspoon or two of EVVO (the amount you use for the sauce will depend on the oiliness of your pesto) in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Pat the chicken breast dry with paper towels. If the chicken breast is really thick, cut it in half to make two cutlets. Otherwise, salt and pepper each side of the chicken breast, place topside down in hot oil. Cook the chicken for 10 – 12 minutes, turning once, until chicken is browned on both sides, and cooked through.
Meanwhile, add a few generous tablespoonfuls (I used about four) of pesto to the small saucepan. Heat until fragrant. Gently whisk pesto, and slowly add cream stirring constantly until combined. Raise heat, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent the sauce from boiling over. Once boiling, lower heat and continue stirring until sauce has settled to a simmer, and simmer for five minutes to reduce.
Just before the sauce has finished simmering, drop the gnocchi in the boiling water, and cook according to package directions, drain and return to pot.
Once sauce has finished simmering, add cheese and stir until completely melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour desired amount of sauce over gnocchi (I only used about half the sauce—you can refrigerate or freeze the leftover sauce) and stir to combine.
To serve, spoon gnocchi into a shallow bowl. Cut chicken crosswise into ¼-inch strips and top gnocchi with the chicken. Garnish with additional grated cheese and freshly ground pepper.