So, for those who are interested, here's what I do, as well as some of the variations I've tried.
Ingredients you'll need for the basic dish:
Chicken (3-4 chicken breasts, or the equivalent of another cut)
Knorr Pesto packet **Edit: Updated information on using a soy-free seasoning packet can be found at this newer post
1/4 cup extra virgen olive oil
Any cut you have on hand will work. I often buy bone-in organic chicken when it's on sale, and it works well. I typically plan on 3-4 chicken breasts or the equivalent per box of pasta. I boil it, usually about 45 minutes (if frozen, less time if it's thawed), or until really tender. Let it cool, then chop it pretty fine and set aside. I usually put it in a large bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients to the chicken.
I use these. I like them because they're multi-grain, and high-protein. Boil as directed!
I use these sauce packets (I buy them at Target). I use two packets per box of noodles, and make them while pasta is cooking. The directions are on the back of the packet, but you add 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 cup water to the packet, bring to a low boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
Once you've drained the noodles (I don't rinse them), add them to the meat. When the sauce is done, add that too, and mix it all together.
You can stop here, and serve it as is! Or, for more variations, read on.
- If you want to make it couple of hours ahead of time: Put finished mixture in crock pot, top with mozzarella cheese, and keep it on low (switch to "warm" if it looks like it's getting too hot. Every crock pot heats differently, but after the first time making it this way, you'll probably know what works best for yours).
- If you're not making it for my husband or brother, you can make it meatless. It would be easier and cheaper.
- How I spice up leftovers: Put some chicken pesto in a bowl (If leftovers are frozen, I microwave them for about a minute and a half before adding anything else to it). Add about a cup of chopped baby spinach. Layer a couple slices of Havarti cheese on top of the spinach (Havarti will work better than mozzarella, because it's creamier when melted). Microwave for about a minute and a half. Once out of the microwave, stir it all together, then you can also add a couple of artichoke hearts to the mixture. Really, you could make it like this the first time. I just don't because Dave doesn't really like spinach. Or extra cheese. Or, for that matter, artichoke hearts.
Well, now I've made myself hungry, so I think I'm going to go make leftover pesto!