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Strawberry Pesto Chicken & Fusilli

The addition of early summer strawberries to this pesto-inspired dressing and marinade is sure to please. This main course salad, made with whole-grain pasta, baby spinach and grilled lean chicken, is both refreshing and colourful.
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min

Ingredients

3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup strawberries, fresh, chopped
1 tbsp basil, fresh
2 tbsp honey
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 ⅓ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
7 oz whole wheat fusilli pasta, dry
8 cups baby spinach, fresh
2 tbsp pine nuts, dried
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, fresh, shaved
4 sprigs basil, fresh

Food Safety

Before you start, wash all surfaces and your hands with soap and warm water, and remember to wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards after they touch raw meat or eggs. Avoid cross-contamination by using a different cutting board for your meat and other ingredients. Make sure you’re cooking to safe temperatures and chilling any leftovers within two hours. For more food safety tips, visit our Food Safety at Home Section.

Steps

  1. Puree red wine vinegar, water, olive oil, strawberries, fresh basil, honey and freshly ground black pepper in blender or food processor.

  2. Reserve half of this vinaigrette to dress the salad (½ cup – 125 mL). Pour other half over chicken breasts in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Seal. Use your hands to massage marinade into chicken pieces. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour and preferably overnight.

  3. Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Remove chicken breasts from bag and place on top shelf of bbq/grill. Grill 10-13 minutes on each side or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Cooking time will vary based on the size of the breasts. Remove from grill and slice grilled chicken into long strips. Set aside.

  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in unsalted water according to package directions.

  5. Add baby spinach to a bowl and toss with ¼ cup (60 mL) of the reserved marinade – dressing. Set aside.

  6. Toast pine nuts in a non-stick skillet for a few minutes until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them as they can burn easily. Set aside.

  7. Use a vegetable peeler to shave long pieces of parmesan cheese. You can use shredded parmesan but it does look nicer when shaved. Set aside.

  8. To serve, spread spinach and pasta over bottom of dinner plates. Top with sliced grilled chicken. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan cheese, sliced strawberries and a sprig of fresh basil. Serve with the rest of the reserved strawberry pesto vinaigrette.

Helpful Tip

Use any fresh or frozen berry in place of the strawberries. Substitute other nuts and cheese to create new combinations. Toasted almonds and soft goat cheese also go really well in this dish.

Making your own marinades and salad dressings saves money and lets you skip the additives or preservatives. Store any leftover in the refrigerator for up to two months. Homemade also skips the emulsifiers, which keep commercial salad dressings mixed – but a quick shake puts it back together for use.

Nutrition Info

Per 330 g serving Amount
Calories560
Protein44 g
Fat19 g
Saturated Fat3 g
Carbohydrate54 g
Fibre8 g
Sugar12 g
Cholesterol90 mg
Sodium260 mg
Per 330 g serving % Daily Value
Potassium21
Calcium15
Iron20
Vitamin A35
Vitamin C45
Vitamin B648
Vitamin B1232
Folate5
Zinc19