Penne Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken, Smoked Bacon, and Snow Peas in a Garlic Scape Pesto

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photoWe’re into July already.  Anyone want to tell me how the heck that happened?

But, being July, there are plenty of things starting to come into season in our garden — thank you Krista for tackling most of the garden chores while I work away on television scripts and magazine articles.  Today I’m making use of the garlic scapes and snow peas that have just come into harvest.

Krista promises to log in soon to talk a bit about her garden — as well as the many things growing that make ours such an edible urban property.  Today she picked scapes, peas, spinach, radishes, raspberries, sour cherries…  I’m not sure what else.

But in the meantime, I thought I’d share some great seasonal recipes based on what we’re taking from our garden.

First of all, an incredible cold pasta dish that is perfect for these hot summer nights:

Penne Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken, Smoked Bacon, and Snow Peas in a Garlic Scape Pesto
Serves 2.  Heartily.
Penne pasta — we use whole wheat — around 200g (pre-cooked)
Garlic scape pesto* to taste
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast  — we’re fans of the chicken from Rhea-lly Emu-zing Ranch at the Saturday market.
3-4 pieces of Smoked bacon — I’m a fan of Franz’s Gold Medal from Franz’s Butcher Shop on Lansdowne St.
Snow peas
Mushrooms
Grated parmesan or manchego cheese for garnish.  I prefer the manchego but often go with a local parm
Garlic chives for garnish

  • Grill chicken on a medium/hot grill (say 350-400 degrees), turning occasionally, until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees.  Yes, you should invest in a quick-read thermometer.  No, I’m not kidding. 
  • When it is a few minutes from being cooked, throw your bacon on the BBQ — laying it sideways across the grills.
  • Once cooked, remove the chicken and bacon from the BBQ and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta and drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Once the pasta is drained, run it under cold water to cool.  Drain again. Refrigerate drained/cooled pasta.
  • One the chicken has rested, cut it into bite-sized chunks.  Create bacon bits from the bacon — I use fairly large pieces.  Refrigerate chicken and bacon.
  • Make pesto.*
  • Cut up mushrooms and peas into bite sizes morsels. Refrigerate.
  • Once the pasta and meats are chilled — say, a half hour — mix all ingredients, adding pesto to your own taste.  If mixture is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
  • Plate and garnish.  You can add a few crushed chilis if you enjoy a bit of zing.  And enjoy.

* I’ve blogged my garlic scape pesto recipe before.  You can read all about scapes in an old newspaper column of mine…  right here.  It includes two pesto recipes.

And here is my quick and dirty version:

Farm to Table Garlic Scape Pesto
2/3 cup garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated local Empire Cheese parmesan*
1/2 (or less) cup raw almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you’d like)
About 1/2 cup olive oil

*OK, I cheat.  I have a manchego addiction.  And I sometimes use wonderful imported manchego from Chasing the Cheese.  But that’s just between you and me, right?

  • Place all ingredients (but only half the oil) in a food processor. 
  • Blend until well mixed. Add extra oil as needed to gain the consistency that you like.  I tend to have mine thick.

I will often make larger batches of pesto, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then put the frozen cubes into a ziplock freezer bag for easy access later use.  I’ve had homemade garlic scape pesto available in the middle of the winter.

I actually made a double batch of this cold salad dish and will be taking the leftovers on a picnic with Krista tomorrow.  I’ll have to find a suitable wine.

Stay tuned.  Sometime in the next couple of days, I’ll be offering up another great hot weather recipe:  Spinach Salad with Radishes in a Raspberry Vinaigrette.  The spinach, radishes, raspberries and herbs will all be courtesy of Krista’s hard work.

 

 

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