Tonight for dinner I was craving a huge plate of pesto pasta. However, I have been trying to eat a more balanced diet and my nutritionist has me on a fairly strict eating plan. I get 3 carbs, 3 proteins, 4 fruits, 1.5 tbs of oil and all the vegetables I want a day. Tonight, I only had 1 carb left and with a serving of pasta equaling 1oz, not 2 as on the back of the box, this large plate of pesto pasta wasn’t looking like it was in the cards. That said I really wanted it and so I got to thinking, how could I modify this dish so that I could still get a huge serving of “pasta” and while staying within my daily requirements? This recipe is what I came up with and it does a really good job of fooling the palate into thinking it’s eating a huge bowl of pasta, if I do say so myself.
1 Lb. Chicken Thigh diced (you can reduce to 1/2 pound if you only need 1 protein) I have even omitted the chicken, serving it instead as a side dish to fish or a grilled chicken breast.
4 Handfuls of raw Baby Spinach, or enough to fill a food processor
2 Cloves of Garlic
12 oz Frozen Green Beans – the thinner ones work for this recipe
2oz Spaghetti, cut in half. this helps it blend with the beans and fools the palate with more ease.
1 tbs Olive Oil
1 Spray Olive Oil Spray, this is actually a good place for the spray on my previous post. Guess I found a good use for it after all!
2oz Feta Cheese (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Step 1 Place a pot of water on the stove to boil and move on to step 2. Once the water comes to a boil add the pasta and cook per package instructions.
Step 2 Place a skillet over high heat. Once the skillet is nice and hot, spray with olive oil spray and add the chicken along with a sprinkling of salt. Let cook until chicken is opaque on all sides and almost cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on my stove.
Step 3 Add the Green Beans, a sprinkle of salt and Stir to combine. Lower the heat to medium high and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the green beans are soft and warmed through. If the juice from the chicken and beans starts to get too brown and dry add a little water.
Step 4 While the beans are cooking, add the Spinach and Garlic to the food processor and whiz on high, stiring as needed, until the ingredients are all chopped up.
Step 5 Add the juice of one lemon and a sprinkle of salt to the food processor and whiz until it makes a thin paste.
Step 6 Add the Olive Oil and whiz just to combine. You want to use a good quality olive oil for this preparation. Since we are using a fraction of the olive oil used in traditional pesto recipes and we are not cooking this pesto, the use of the higher quality oils gives both a great deal of flavor and more heart healthy fats. I often find if I am trying to cut oil in half, leaving it out until the end and then adding a very high quality olive oil makes it so that I don’t miss having all the fat in the original recipe.
Step 7 Once the chicken has cooked add the pesto and stir to combine.
Step 8 Add the pasta, feta and a tablespoon of cooking water to the pan and quickly toss together until the pasta and beans are well dressed in sauce.
Step 9 Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with the chopped tomato and enjoy!