Gluten-Free Chicken Pasta with Kale Pesto

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Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Calories: 545

A nutrient-packed alternative to regular pesto, this gluten-free kale pesto is delicious tossed with freshly cooked gluten-free pasta. It’s also terrific as a spread for gluten-free pizza or sandwiches. Nutritional yeast adds dairy-free cheesy flavor to the pesto, but you can stick with the more traditional option of grated Parmesan. If nuts aren’t tolerated, blend in hemp seeds. Baby kale is an easy way to add extra nutrition to this gluten-free dish. It’s sold in plastic clamshells in stores alongside baby spinach. 

Gluten-Free Chicken Pasta with Kale Pesto

Photo by Matthew Kadey

MAKES 6 SERVINGS.

Ingredients:

Gluten-Free Kale Pesto

3 large curly kale leaves, torn and stems removed
⅓ cup walnuts or hemp seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, optional
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Gluten-Free Chicken Pasta

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) box gluten-free penne, fusilli or rotini pasta
2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 cups baby kale
Freshly cracked pepper

Directions

1. To make pesto, blanch curly kale 1 minute in a pot of boiling water. Drain and immediately plunge kale into ice water. Drain and gently squeeze out excess liquid. Place kale, walnuts, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor container and blend until kale is pulverized. Add nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and chili flakes (if using) to container. With machine running, pour in olive oil through the feed tube until incorporated.

2. To make chicken, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to pan and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down, about 5 minutes.

3. To make pasta, boil pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions, cooking only until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pan, reserving ½cup cooking liquid.

4. Add kale pesto and lemon zest to pasta, stirring in as much reserved cooking liquid as needed to help pesto cling to pasta. Stir in cooked chicken, tomatoes and baby kale. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper.

Each serving contains 545 calories, 20g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 62mg cholesterol, 182mg sodium, 68g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 2g sugars, 26g protein, 43Est GL.
Each tablespoon of pesto contains 55 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 39mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 2g protein, 0Est GL.

Contributing chef Matthew Kadey, RD, (rocketfuelfoods.net) is a registered dietitian and food writer. He is author of The Muffin Tin Chef (Ulysses Press), The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook (Ulysses Press), and Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure (VeloPress).

Directions

11. To make pesto, blanch curly kale 1 minute in a pot of boiling water. Drain and immediately plunge kale into ice water. Drain and gently squeeze out excess liquid. Place kale, walnuts, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor container and blend until kale is pulverized. Add nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and chili flakes (if using) to container. With machine running, pour in olive oil through the feed tube until incorporated.

22. To make chicken, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to pan and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down, about 5 minutes.

33. To make pasta, boil pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions, cooking only until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pan, reserving ½cup cooking liquid.

44. Add kale pesto and lemon zest to pasta, stirring in as much reserved cooking liquid as needed to help pesto cling to pasta. Stir in cooked chicken, tomatoes and baby kale. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper.

1 serving contains 545 calories, 20g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 62mg cholesterol, 182mg sodium, 68g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 2g sugars, 26g protein.