Friday, July 20, 2012

Pesto Mac

I had leftover roast chicken. I had pesto. I wanted to make something interesting, inspirational. Fabulous at the very least. Something worth blogging about. But my brain just wasn't cooperating. I almost made a risotto, only I didn't have any short-grain rice. I did have a box of cavatappi, that fun spiral pasta that's like a conga line of elbow macaroni, and realized there was plenty of cheese in the fridge, so my lazy brain went there.

Mac and cheese. But with pesto and chicken. Not exactly a life-changing dinner, but it was very good, and rather easy. I used Alton Brown's Stove Top Mac recipe as a guideline, switched up some quantities, and added sauteed onions for more flavor. You could skip the onions to make an even quicker version.

Macaroni with Pesto and Chicken (adapted from Alton Brown's Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese)

1 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound cavatappi
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 5-oz cans evaporated milk
6 ounces milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
16 ounces shredded cheese (we like a combination of sharp cheddar, Swiss, and pepper Jack)
3/4 cup pesto (home-made or store-bought)
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until very soft and starting to brown around the edges, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain water, return pasta to pot, and add butter.

Whisk together the eggs, milks, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese, the onions, and the pesto. Cook over medium heat until cheese melts and pasta is well coated. Stir in chicken and fresh basil and taste for seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper if necessary.

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