Fresh Mozzarella & Pesto Pasta

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fresh Mozzarella & Pesto Pasta from the Schnuck's Cooks Kitchen
1 box (12 oz) Culiaria fusilli pasta
1 package (6 oz) Cib Naturals refrigerated classic basil pesto
1 package (8oz) BelGioioso fresh mozzarella pearls, drained
2 medium tomatoes (about 8oz each), coarsely chopped
salt (optional)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, grilled and sliced (optional)

Directions:  Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling over high heat.  Add fusilli and cook as label directs.  Remove 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.

In same saucepot, stir pasta cooking water with pesto.  Add pasta and toss until well coated with sauce.  Stir in mozzarella, tomatoes and salt to taste.  If desired, arrange chicken over pasta to serve.  Makes about 8 cups.

-The Cibo Naturals basil pesto was not available so I used a jarred basil pesto.  The chef at the station told me that a packaged pesto would also work (the ones where you add water and oil).
-I sauteed my chicken on the stovetop with various seasonings instead of grilling.
-I substituted a whole grain rotini for the fusilli.

Here's what I started with:

Here's how I did it:

#1 I cut up 2 chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.  I then sauteed the chicken in olive oil with Italian seasoning, garlic salt, 1 garlic clove and some pepper.

#2 I chopped up a couple of tomatoes.

#3 I poured a box of pasta into boiling water and let it cook.  Since it was whole grain pasta, I let it cook for about 15 minutes as I normally don't like the texture of whole grain pasta when it is cooked only 8-10 minutes.

Once the pasta was close to being finished, I ladeled some of the pasta juice into a sauce pan and then emptied the bottle of basil pesto in with it and warmed it up.

#4 I drained the pasta.

#5 Then poured the basil pesto over the pasta.

#6 I then added the tomatoes, mozzarella balls and chicken.

#7 Finally, I topped it with some parmesan cheese.

The Finished Product:


Yummy is all I can say!  While I was shopping at Schnuck's last week, this dish was being offered at their demonstration table.  They served it with some double cheese bread and it was delicious.

I tried to make it a little healthier by substituting whole grain pasta and I served it with garlic toast and a garden salad.  Usually when I use the whole grain pasta Scott says that he can tell but with this dish I was the one who told him, afterwards, that it was whole grain.  I'm not sure if it was the extra cooking time or if it was the hearty, herb flavoring that "masked" it for him.  Either way, Scott really liked this dish.

The basil pesto was really good and had a good herbed garlicy flavor.  I did think that it was lacking salt so I did salt the dish.  I also thought the pesto would be great to just use as a dipping sauce for some crusty bread.

My only complaint is that 1 jar of the basil pesto is really not enough for a whole box of pasta.  I made the whole box so there would be leftovers for lunch tomorrow and I probably could have used at least 1 1/2 jars of the pesto.

Kanin loved this dish and actually gave it a "2 thumbs up", which if you read his blog you know that it doesn't happen very often.  LOL


Chris said...

Looks gooey and good! I love the drippy cheese stretched across the pasta!

April Westerhold said...

That was Kanin's favorite part! I asked him what he liked best about it and he matter-of-factly told me, "the mozzarella".

Team Tezzy said...

That looks fabulous!

Haven's Mom said...

I think I have everything to make this... Yum!!

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