Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Dear chicken Florentine. I like you. I like your spinach and your cream sauce. But honestly? I don’t love you. You’re missing a little pizzaz. So, I would like to introduce you to my friend pesto pasta. You kinda need that punch from the pesto’s garlic, basil, and Parm. Now we have the makings of love. Go forth and multiply.

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8.

We've used fresh spinach in this recipe, but you could easily use frozen. Just defrost and drain.

Ingredients

  • 12-16 ounces dried short pasta (bowties, penne, gemelli, etc)
  • 4 chicken breast cutlets (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine or stock
  • 8-16 ounces of fresh spinach*, washed, long stems removed and chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup (or more) pesto

*To wash spinach, fill up a clean sink basin with cold water and let the spinach soak in the water. Move it around a bit to loosen any dirt. Fresh spinach is usually pretty dirty, so you may need to do a couple of soakings. Remove the spinach and shake off excess water. Lay the spinach leaves down on a clean towel and pat dry.

Method

1 Bring a large pot of salted water (add enough salt so that the water tastes salty) to a boil. Add the dried pasta and cook until al dente.

2 While preparing the pasta, cook the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and brown the chicken breasts on both sides over medium-high heat. They don't need to be cooked all the way through, just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

3 Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the onions cook, slice the chicken into strips. Put any pieces that are cooked all the way through in one pile, and put the ones that still need a little cooking in another pile.

4 When the onions are just beginning to brown, add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the white wine or stock and boil vigorously until the liquid is reduced by half.

5 Add the spinach and the undercooked pieces of chicken to the pan. Using tongs, turn them over to coat them with the juices in the pan. Continue to cook, turning and stirring often, until the spinach is wilted and the chicken cooked through, about 2 minutes.

6 Turn off the heat and add some black pepper, the pile of cooked chicken pieces and the pesto. Stir to combine. Drain the pasta put it in a large bowl. Add the cream to the saute pan and stir well to combine. Add the contents of the pan to the bowl with the pasta and mix well. Serve at once.

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Links:
Chicken Florentine Salad - from Recipe Girl
Eggs Florentine Brunch Pizza - from Stephen Cooks
Chicken Florentine Casserole - from The Savory Notebook

Showing 4 of 18 Comments

  • Steph

    Made this for my husband and our 2 1/2 year old tonight and they both LOVED it. We all did! Thanks.

  • Bianca

    My boyfriend and I made this the other night and it was great! We added mushrooms to it, and it turned out great :)thanks for the recipe.

  • Britni

    Do you recommend seasoning the chicken a little more? I live in the south and just using salt seems weird to me! LOL

    The pesto adds a lot of seasoning, but feel free to add more if you want. ~Elise

  • Jesica

    I just made this for my boyfriend and his friend, we all really enjoyed the end product. The only change I would make would be to add a little more cream and pesto, other than that it was a success. I will definitely be making this again in the regular rotation.

    Thank you Elise!

  • Taryn

    Not a deal breaker, but we had trouble with the spinach clumping up, making it difficult to achieve any kind of balance when we mixed it with the pasta – you either got a huge clump, or you got nothing! Any suggestions? We remedied it simply by sauteing another batch of leaves in more white wine … still clumpy, but more of it to go ’round!

    We cook often but do not work with many pesto sauces, so the flexibility in amount of ingredients in this recipe challenged our ability to get the portions right. Our pasta to sauce ratio was WAY too high initially (we did about 13oz of each to start), and we wound up adding not only more spinach but lots of salt, pepper and pesto. We found that adding a splash of lemon juice really aiding in adjusting the strength of the flavor to our liking. Maybe vinegar then or at an earlier stage would have the same effect?

    The final product was delicious. This has been my go-to site for recipes for several years now! (Last night we made the mango chicken curry – super yummy!)

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