Lightened-Up Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms and Chicken

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FALL IS HERE!  Salads and smoothies MOVE OVER.  Soups, pasta, and oatmeal COME ON IN! While comfort food is a must during the cold months, there’s always an easy way to up the deliciousness and the health-factor to the max.  This recipe takes a classic – pesto – and adds in some healthy fats with avocado.  Adding lean protein and veggies to the pasta makes this a well rounded dish that’s quick and easy!

Lean Green Pesto Machine

Lean Green Pesto Machine

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Ignore your fears that this sauce will taste like avocados!  With the massive amount of fresh basil, lemon, and garlic it tastes like true pesto.  The avocado adds a creamy thickness that grabs onto those swirly noodles and ups the ante on the great flavor.  Double your sauce recipe and throw it in the freezer.  It should keep for a few months and is perfect for last minute dinner plans – better than a frozen pizza!

This pesto sauce is versatile – add it on a flatbread, burger, or even an “Italian quesadilla”.  Meals for days!  Keep your eyes out for more lightened-up comfort food recipes – there’s more where this came from!

Happy first day of Fall!  My FAVORITE holiday!

Your delicious finished product!

Your delicious finished product!

Lightened-Up Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms and Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish, Poultry
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
This lightened up pesto sauce gives you all the flavor without the fat - make an extra batch and throw in the freezer, then thaw in warm water when ready! Great for a quick, weeknight dinner.
Ingredients
For the pesto sauce:
  • 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  • ½ large, ripe avocado
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • ¼ cups parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
For the pasta:
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups veggie rotini pasta
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into strips
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch baby spinach
  • 2 cups Sliced Baby Portabella Mushrooms
  • 1.5 tbsp. butter/yogurt spread (I use Brummel and Brown)
Instructions
  1. For the pesto sauce, put basil, garlic, avocado, pine nuts, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and salt in a food processor.
  2. Mix until just combined. Slowly add water until desired consistency.
  3. Boil your pasta according to the package instructions and drain. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large saute pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken strips and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until done and golden brown on each side, about 8 minutes. Set aside with pasta.
  5. In the same saute pan, add the Brummel and Brown spread. When melted, add the mushrooms and spinach and cook until done, stirring occasionally. Spinach will be wilted and mushrooms softened.
  6. Mix the pesto sauce in with the spinach, chicken, mushrooms, and pasta. Top with extra shredded parmesan and enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 480 Fat: 15 g Saturated fat: 3 g Unsaturated fat: 7 g Carbohydrates: 55 g Sugar: 4 g Sodium: 818 mg Fiber: 6 g Protein: 39 g Cholesterol: 60 mg

 

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