Hye Thyme Cafe: Pesto Chicken Cavatappi with Pickled Peppadews

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pesto Chicken Cavatappi with Pickled Peppadews

Ever have an idea in mind that, when you go to execute it, turns into something else? That's what happened with this. My problem is that it was so well received, if I get a chance to make it the way I had envisioned, I'll probably hear "Why did you change it? We liked it the way it was." Sigh...

Everyone was running around doing whatever yesterday, and it occurred to me that nobody had ever mentioned dinner - who would be cooking, what we were having, etc. Because it was getting to be late afternoon, and I had the feeling I would be home first, I figured I would make dinner. We haven't had pasta in a while, so that sounded like a good idea.  

I decided to make something with a Pesto (haven't made my own in a million years), and wanted to pick up a Rotisserie Chicken to cut down on prep time. As I was driving to the market, it occurred to me that, instead of the usual Walnut or Pine Nut version, maybe I should try an Almond Pesto. Then I thought hmmm, what about Kale instead of Basil? We all love Kale...and I'll use Yellow Cherry Tomatoes...and Roasted Red Pepper. Ya, that sounds good. OK, that's what I'll do.

Of course, I got to the store and they had no Kale! I don't know why I bother going to that particular market! Actually, I do - it's the closest, but I should know better. I thought about using Swiss Chard, which was where the Kale was supposed to be, but I have never eaten/used Swiss Chard before. I took a little nibble [shhh, don't tell], but it really didn't have a strong enough flavor, so I punted back to Basil. Then they didn't have any kind of Yellow Tomatoes. Bummer! I grabbed a pint of Red Grape Tomatoes instead. As I was heading for the  Rotisserie Chickens, I passed the Olive Bar. Since we first tried them back in November when I made Antipasto Sticks for a party, we have become addicted to the Peppadew Peppers you find there. I decided to switch from using Roasted Red Peppers to using those. Since I was at the olive bar already, I decided to pick up some Kalamatas to go in the String Bean Salad I was making. I have always made that using the large black canned Lindsay  Olives, but I love Kalamatas, so I couldn't resist. 

When I got home, I realized what a dingbat I can be ... I got red peppers AND red tomatoes. Duh! I was considering skipping the tomatoes and using some of the Kalamatas instead for contrast, but I thought that might be too much with the Pesto and Peppadews, so I just lost the tomatoes. Sooooo, see what I mean? Started off one way and ended up as something else. Everyone liked this so much, if I make it with yellow tomatoes and roasted red peppers now, I'll end up getting grief for it.  :(

1 cooked rotisserie chicken
12 oz box of cavatappi pasta
10-12 peppadews, chopped

1/3 c whole almonds
2 c basil leaves
handful of arugala (or parsley, etc.)
3 T lemon juice
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 t salt
pinch of crushed red pepper (I used New Mexico chilies)
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 c olive oil (or more to taste)

Although I think Pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, I'll stick with a food processor... unless I need it to be exceptionally smooth for some reason. I used to have a great recipe and made it all the time back in the mid 80s, but I lost it at some point and have pretty much zero retention, so I don't remember it. I gave the almonds a head start in the spin cycle before adding the other ingredients, stopping now and again to scrape the sides of the bowl, and ending with the olive oil. Drizzle the olive oil in a little at a time until the mixture gets to a texture you like. I kept it on the thick side to just coat the pasta, but if you want more of a "sauce," you can use more oil, or maybe reserve a little of your pasta water and toss it with that before adding it to your dish. Set the pesto aside for now.

Put on a pot of water for your pasta, and while you're waiting for that to boil, you can chop your peppers. You should probably get extras, because you will definitely be sneaking some when nobody is looking. They're sweet, they're hot, they're the best of both worlds. They're like little hats just crying out to be filled with a little mozzarella ball or olive. Argh, my mouth is watering just thinking about these little gems. Wish I had tried them sooner!

Dismember your chicken and cut or tear it into bite-sized pieces. We all stick to white meat chicken in our house, so when we roast chickens, we usually send the legs to a friend's house for her kids to munch on, but for some reason, I actually like the legs on most of these rotisserie chickens, so I'm just setting them aside for now. Maybe I'll be nice and share with the dog for lunch tomorrow.  :)

It's as easy as that! When your pasta is cooked to your liking, drain the water (reserving some to mix with the pesto if you want), add the chicken and peppers, then stir in the pesto. By the way, I liked the pesto, but I'll increase the garlic next time.

Now that I'm looking at this, I'm thinking it's probably good cold, too. Maybe I'll have a little of this with my chicken leg tomorrow ... but the dog can't have the pasta!! Garlic is one of those things that you hear is lethal to dogs, then you hear it's good for them. That makes me crazy, but I'm not taking any chances. She's very weird (and cute), but we want to keep Coco the CuKoo Chihuaha happy and healthy for many years to come.  :)

Loves the view from my rear-view window.

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