To make chicken pesto pasta, prepare the pesto by blending fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor, boil pasta, pan fry chicken strips and combine everything together with lemon zest and juice. A recipe for pesto chicken penne by Siba Mtongana is available on CookingChannelTV.com.
Make the pesto by blending 7 ounces of fresh basil leaves, 3 1/2 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese, 3 1/2 ounces of toasted pine nuts, 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 seeded green chile in a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and blend until smooth. Continue blending while slowly adding 2/3 cup of olive oil in a steady stream.
Cook 1 pound of penne pasta in boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse briefly with cold water. In a large saucepan, sauté 2 crushed cloves of garlic with 1 tablespoon of pesto oil for one minute. Add 4 chicken breasts cut into strips, 1 tablespoon of dried Italian herbs, salt and pepper, and fry for about five minutes. When the chicken is almost cooked through, add 9 ounces of halved cherry tomatoes and cook for two more minutes.
Add the penne pasta to the saucepan with enough pesto to sauce the pasta and chicken. Mix in the juice and grated zest of 1 lemon and serve warm topped with shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.