This is the first Italian-style dish that I created myself and I’m still making it on a regular basis because it’s so good. It’s not authentic and the odds are against me that an Italian would ever make a similar dish, but who cares as long as it’s good ;-) This is simple home cooking and not haute cuisine. I created this dish in the late nineties because I thought that since pesto goes well with chicken, pesto goes well with haricots verts and pesto goes well with sundried tomatoes, the combination of all of them should be nice. And it work. Since then my cooking has evolved quite a bit. This dish has also evolved: I now use home-made pesto (see yesterday’s post) rather than store-bought and chicken thigh meat rather than chicken breast because it has more flavor, is juicier and just as tender. And in summer when tomatoes are in season I sometimes use my own oven-dried tomatoes. (Drying in the sun is not really an option in the Netherlands.) Just like with original/authentic Italian recipes, the quality of the result will depend on the quality of the ingredients used. So please use fresh haricots verts, not frozen and certainly not canned!
For 2 servings as a main course
225 grams (1/2 pound) boneless and skinless chicken thighs
300 grams (2/3 pounds) fresh haricots verts
150-200 grams (1/3 – 1/2 pound) penne pasta
180 grams (6 oz) home-made pesto
8 sundried tomatoes from a jar with oil or home-made
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim any excess fat from the chicken thigh meat.
Cut the meat into smallish cubes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat around 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat and briefly sauté the chicken pieces. Turn down the heat to very low as soon as the color or raw chicken is not visible anymore. The chicken will continue to cook over very low heat. This way, the chicken will become cooked through without becoming dry. Turn the chicken pieces occasionally.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Trim the ends off the haricots verts.
Cut the haricots verts in half (such that the size is about the same as the penne pasta) and wash them.
As soon as the water boils, add penne pasta and cook for the time indicated on the package. Add the haricots verts to the same pan and cook them for 8-10 minutes depending on how al dente you like them.
Meanwhile, chop the sundried tomatoes and add to the frying pan with the chicken.
Reserve a bit of cooking water. Drain the pasta and haricots verts and add to the frying pan with the chicken. Add the pesto.
Toss to mix. Add a few tablespoons of the cooking water if the pasta ends up too dry. Serve on preheated plates and sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano to taste.
Since we usually eat this on weekdays, we don’t often drink wine with it. Since pesto defines most of the taste, I suggest a dry Italian white that goes well with pesto. I once had a Bianco Langhe “Rolando” from Bricco Maiolica that went great with pesto. It is made from a somewhat unusual blend of 50% chardonnay matured in oak and 50% sauvignon matured in stainless steel. The vegetal nose together with the freshness of the sauvignon and the roundness of the chardonnay made it a great match with pesto and a great wine overall.