Pasta With A Pinch Of Pine Nuts

Pine nuts (or pinon seeds) were once a hot trading commodity in Colorado and New Mexico. While times (and currencies) have changed, pine nuts still remain a pricey little taste of heaven. I buy mine in bulk to help curb costs and to allow me to have pine nuts to use at my disposal whenever I deem fit. When toasted, these nuts can be added to salads, pastas, or served as a snack.

Today’s recipe is a summery pasta that also incorporates another bulk food fave–sun dried tomatoes–to a yogurt based cream-lite sauce. If you have a lemon handy, I also recommend adding just a little zest to each portion for a bright finish.

Chicken Spinach Pasta W/ Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Toasted Pine Nuts
–1 cup fettuccine or linguine noodles
–1/4 cup pine nuts
–cooking spray
–1 large chicken breast, sliced into strips
–salt and pepper to taste
–1 medium onion, sliced vertically into strips
–garlic, minced
–crushed red pepper
–1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
–1/4 cup plain yogurt
–1 tsp flour
–1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
–1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
–1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
–4 oz. grated parmesan cheese
–lemon zest (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting oil and salt.

Spread the pine nuts out on a cookie sheet or metal baking pan. While the pasta cooks, roast at 250 degrees for 7 minutes before turning and continuing to toast. Do not let the pine nuts burn, you want them to be golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Season the chicken pieces with a smidge of salt and a healthy dose of black pepper. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray and cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan when done. Re-coat the pan with cooking spray and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to get translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and stir to combine.

In a bowl, combine the 1/2 and 1/2 and yogurt. Whisk in the flour. Add the mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes before adding the spinach, basil, chicken, and cooked pasta. Cook until thoroughly heated and serve, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts, parmesan, and lemon zest.

Dammit Jim, I’m a cook, not a doctor…
Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4
Calories: 442 per serving (includes 1 oz. cheese)

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