Pasta salad with chicken pesto and moz­zarella

Countryfile Magazine - - Hiking Food -

Whole­grain pasta is a great slow-re­lease fuel to keep you go­ing all af­ter­noon. You could, of course, use ready-made pesto in this tasty salad, but if you’ve never made your own pesto, I urge you to give it a ago. It only takes a quick whizz in the food pro­ces­sor, and the flavour is so vi­brant.

In­gre­di­ents Serves 2 For the pesto:

50g pine nuts 50g bunch basil, leaves and stalks 25g parme­san, freshly grated 1 clove garlic 2 tbsp ex­tra virgin olive oil a squeeze of lemon juice, to taste salt and freshly ground pep­per

For the salad:

1 heaped tsp plain flour 300g bone­less, skin­less chicken thighs, cut into 3cm cubes 1 tbsp olive oil 150g whole­grain pasta 250g cherry toma­toes, quar­tered 1 ball moz­zarella, torn into bite sized pieces salt and freshly ground pep­per

Method

1. To make the pesto, set a small fry­ing pan over a medium-high heat and add the pine nuts. Toast for a few min­utes un­til golden brown and smelling nutty, then tip into a food pro­ces­sor and whizz un­til ground. Roughly tear the basil stems and leaves, trim­ming the stalks only at the very ends if they are re­ally thick, and add to the food pro­ces­sor, whizzing un­til finely chopped. Add the parme­san, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, and sea­son with salt and pep­per. Scrape into a mix­ing bowl (large enough to toss the salad in) and set aside.

2. For the salad, sprin­kle the flour on to a plate, sea­son well with salt and pep­per, then toss the chicken in the flour to lightly coat.

3. Set a fry­ing pan over a medium-high heat and add the oil. When it’s hot, tip in the chicken. Spread it out in a sin­gle layer, and fry un­til crisp and golden, turn­ing a cou­ple of times un­til it’s cooked all the way through – about 15-18 mins. Re­move the chicken and put on a plate lined with a cou­ple of sheets of kitchen pa­per to drain any excess oil.

4. While the chicken is fry­ing, cook the pasta ac­cord­ing to the packet in­struc­tions – about 12 mins at a hearty boil. Drain the pasta into a colan­der, then run briefly un­der cold water to cool be­fore drain­ing re­ally well. Tip into the mix­ing bowl, and toss through the pesto un­til it’s evenly coated.

5. Add the cooked chicken, toma­toes and moz­zarella and toss to­gether. Pack into your lunch­boxes, and chill un­til you are ready to hike. And don’t for­get to pack a fork! This salad will hap­pily keep in the fridge overnight if you want make it ahead.

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