Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

If you're looking a quick and super tasty pasta dish, this is definitely one to try.  I made the pesto in the time it took to boil the noodles!  I'm a huge fan of the roasted red bell peppers that come in  the jar.  They are healthy, beautiful, super delicious and a very versatile pantry item.   For a side dish, the pasta is perfect.  To make this a main dish, I added some rotisserie chicken - an ingredient you just about can't beat to stretch a dollar. 

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup of jarred roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • roasted rotisserie chicken, optional

Directions 

I threw the garlic cloves in a small pan and added the cold olive oil.  I slowly pan roasted the garlic a while to mellow it out.  When you heat the garlic with the cold oil, the oil becomes flavored.

Add the pine nuts to the warm oil and let them simmer just a minute or two.

Add the garlic, pine nuts, and oil to the food processor and pulse until they are a fine paste.

Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse.

Add the red pepper, basil leaves and salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine into a paste.  Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. 

Add the pesto to the pasta and stir to combine.

Stir in heavy cream if desired for a creamier sauce. Heat until warmed through.
*If you trying to avoid cream (or dairy in general), feel free to add a little chicken broth in the place of the cream.

Stir in roasted rotisserie chicken if you want, or serve plain.

Garnish with extra pine nuts, chopped basil, grated Parmesan.   Serve immediately.