½poundpenne pastaabout 2 1/2 cups dry (half of a one pound box)
1poundboneless skinless chicken breastcut into bite-sized chunks
Salt and pepperto taste
1cuphalf and halfor all milk/cream
½cupfreshly grated Parmesan
1cupfreshly shredded Mozzarella
½cupfresh basil pestoor more, to taste
Fresh basilfor garnish, if desired
Boil pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and olive oil, then add minced garlic, italian seasoning and diced chicken breast. Season with salt and pepper and cook until chicken is no longer pink, stirring chicken a couple of times to brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate and discard any liquid in the skillet.
Return skillet to the stove over medium heat and melt butter. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
Whisk in chicken broth and half & half and bring to a boil. If it begins to boil too rapidly, turn the heat down a little. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in pesto and cheeses. Add the pasta and chicken and stir to coat. Garnish with fresh chopped basil and fresh cracked black pepper.
Optional add-ins: fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, yellow squash, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes.The mozzarella can seize up if you don't get it blended in right away. Mix quickly. You could also try adding half of the mozzarella at a time, stirring well to blend it in each time. Some have commented that it's "a lot of cheese." While some love it that way, I can understand how some may not prefer it. If you are worried about the amount I recommend adding half and incorporating it fully, before adding the other half.Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days, or up to 4 months in the freezer. Make sure to cool completely first.To reheat, thaw completely in the fridge then I recommend reheating on the stove, at a low heat and adding a little bit of milk to help keep it from drying out.