After working seven doubles in a row, I was really looking forward to having a night off. I’ve been working my little butt off to pay off the rest of my Australia, New Zealand and Fiji trip, saving up for an upcoming Europe trip for my mom’s birthday and some upcoming dental work. I had forgotten what it was like to work two full-time jobs at the same time – intense! Wanting to clear out some leftover ingredients in my fridge and freezer and exhausted after a day’s work and two hours of pole training, I was ready to unwind with a quick and easy dinner. With my ex-boyfriend providing the wine and dessert, it was my responsibility to whip up the main: pesto cream farfalle with chicken, leeks and green peas.
I can always rely on pasta for the quickest and most satisfying weeknight meals and this evening was no exception. I had slew of random ingredients in my fridge and pantry which were about to go bad: about two cups of milk, a wilting leek, garlic cloves, maybe one cup of green peas, frozen homemade pesto that I had made a month ago… It was a random mish-mash of sorts. And if I was being completely honest, it was a tossup between getting takeout and cooking. Of course, I hate throwing any ingredients away when they can still be salvaged – so I ended up cooking – and so happy I did!
While my ex was grabbing the ice cream, I popped into my local grocery store to pick up some additional ingredients: farfalle and some canned chicken. I only had spaghetti on-hand and I knew it wouldn’t have been enough to feed us both and to have leftovers for my lunch the next day. The farfalle would prove to be the perfect vessel to capture the thick, creamy bechamel laced with homemade garlicky pesto. I didn’t want to cook any fresh chicken so I opted for canned. Not sure what the big deal is about canned chicken but I always get an odd look. It’s like canned fish or ham – perfectly cooked and ready to it. And in this case, ready to toss into my pasta for a dinner that would ready in 20-minutes.
Peeling back the old, wilted leaves from the leek and sliced thinly, these came together quite quickly. They were sautéed in butter with a hint of dried red chili flakes which would provide a much-needed bit of heat in the mild, creamy sauce. I’m a spice lover so you’d best believe that I had added a ton of freshly ground black pepper to the mix as well.
As usual, raving reviews for something so simple. This really hit the spot and I’m so glad I was able to have this on the table under 30-minutes and with a glass of wine in hand, perfectly chilled. Not a bad Wednesday evening!
PESTO CREAM FARFALLE WITH CHICKEN, LEEKS & GREEN PEAS – serves 4 – 6
1 (500g) pkg farfalle
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grana Padano, grated
¾ cup pesto
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup pasta water
1 cup frozen green peas
1 tbsp butter
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
½ tsp dried red chili flakes
2 (156g) cans flaked chicken, diced
1 ½ tsps freshly ground pepper
In a large pot of heavily salted water, cook the pasta according to packaged directions until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of starchy pasta water, drain and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter until melted and add in the flour and whisk it until it turns into a paste. Toast over medium-high heat and slowly dribble the milk in and continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Add the minced garlic and cheese. Lastly, add in the pesto, pasta water and peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a separate saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add in the leeks and dried red chili flakes and saute for 5 minutes or until you can see a slight char and the leeks are slightly toasted. Remove from heat.
When ready, combine the pasta, pesto cream sauce, leeks and chopped chicken and toss. Grind some fresh black pepper, toss once more and serve with a chilled glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc.