chicken, pesto & goat’s cheese penne

Chicken, pesto & goat's cheese penne
Chicken, pesto & goat’s cheese penne

I have to admit that I’d be rather embarrassed to serve this dish to any Italians I know, as chicken and pasta are rarely paired in Italian cuisine. However, as someone who doesn’t mind straying from the path of culinary convention, I find it hard to resist this combination of garlicky chicken, pesto, pasta and creamy goat’s cheese.

Whereas I would happily eat goat’s cheese every day, my other half doesn’t crave it on quite such a regular basis, so I often save this dish for when he’s out of the house and I can savour it in all its goat’s-cheesy glory on my own.

If you’re a fairly proficient multitasker, you can probably knock this up in about half an hour. To get ahead of the game when you know time is going to be short, prepare the pepper and the pine nuts in advance and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to add them to the dish.

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Chicken, pesto & goat's cheese penne
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 7.
  2. Arrange the pepper on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp oil. Place in the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a medium-sized saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the penne and simmer for the amount of time indicated on the packet (usually 10-12 minutes).
  4. Once the pasta is simmering, make a deep cut down the length of the chicken breast and pull each half outwards to flatten the breast. Season both sides well with salt and pepper. Heat the butter with the remaining ½ tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the chicken and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown on the outside and cooked through in the middle. Add the garlic 1-2 minutes before the end of the cooking process. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to rest.
  5. Once the pepper has been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 180C/Gas 6. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the pepper, return the tray to the oven and roast for a further 5 minutes until the edges of the pepper are charred and the pine nuts are golden brown.
  6. Place the goat's cheese in the frying pan containing the chicken juices. Add the pesto, pepper, pine nuts, pasta and chilli.
  7. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the mixture in the frying pan. Stir until the all of the ingredients are combined.
  1. Arrange the pasta on plates and sprinkle over the Parmesan/Grana Padano shavings.
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