I have no fancy name for this dish. We were in Tennessee for the wedding all week last week. I can't even begin to tell you how BEAUTIFUL that part of the state is. Mountains, mountains, and more mountains! And this gorgeous river that ran right through the middle of the town... just amazing.
The worst part of the trip was all the eating out. Ugh. I was anxious to fix something light and healthy and delicious. So while I was at the commissary yesterday, I suddenly had this rush of inspiration. None of these ingredients were on my shopping list, but I didn't care a bit. When Jim saw that $11.00 wedge of parmigiano reggiano, he cared quite a bit. Oops.
I really did use some good ingredients on this dish, but when you're using nothing but pasta and few ingredients, you want to make sure you don't skimp on quality.
The nice thing about this dish is you can have it on the table in 30 minutes. No joke.
Take a package of gemelli and cook it according to its directions. I wanted these al dente, so I made sure not to let them boil longer than 8 minutes.
Drain and rinse with cold water. No worries... we'll heat this back up in the skillet.
Now let's do our prep.
Roughly chop 1 clove garlic.
Chop up 4-5 sun dried tomatoes.
If you've never used sun dried tomatoes before, you don't know what you're missing. They have this wonderful smoky flavor that is incomparable. We used this a lot at the bakery to add in our bread and quiches.
Roughly chop up some italian parsley.
Cut up 2-3 slices bacon. It would have been better to use pancetta, but I didn't have any on hand and didn't even think of it when I was at the commissary. You don't want to use too much because you don't want to overpower the flavor of the tomatoes and pesto. The bacon is secondary... remember that.
Heat up a skillet and fry the bacon.
When it's about halfway cooked, add a little extra virgin olive oil and the clove of garlic. Let saute for 30 seconds.
Add some diced grilled chicken. I used some pre-cooked breasts that I pulled out of the freezer. They come in handy for quick meals like this. You could grill up your own chicken breasts if you want. It would make this better, for sure.
Add the sun dried tomatoes and the pasta. Stir to coat. If you need to add a little more olive oil, do so right now. Season well with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Pesto comes in a jar like this. It's found in the deli section of your grocer. Pesto is a ground mix of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic. It's really fragrant and gives wonderful subtle flavor to your dishes.
I put in about 3-4 Tbsp of pesto. Add as much or as little as you like. Stir to coat.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped parsley. Stir well. Taste and re-season if needed.
This is the lovely wedge of parmigiano reggiano. My husband pulled it out of the fridge after dinner was done and broke off some pieces to eat all alone. Whew. He likes his cheese!
You could grate this, but I wanted more substantial pieces of cheese so I used a vegetable peeler. You'll get more flavor per bite doing it this way. YUMMY!
Add it to the pan and stir.
Time to plate up!
I added a little more parmigiano once it was all plated.