1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic (or 1 tsp crushed garlic or granules)
1 onion or leek
100 g per serve of chicken breast (optional)
1 head silverbeet (or approx. 300 g spinach)
125 g cream cheese
2 heaped tbsp basil pesto
1 tbsp chilli sauce (optional)
2 cups of pasta (your choice of dried or fresh, I normally just use penne)
These instructions include my shortcuts to keep this dish to about 20 minutes prep time. I’m new to writing recipes down, as normally just cook from memory, or experiment, so let me know if anything isn’t clear.
Fill kettle and turn on to boil, this will become your pasta cooking water, but boiling the kettle first also reduces time taken to reach boiling, saving time and reducing your power use.
Add olive oil to a large, deep frying pan or wok and heat on a medium heat. Crush garlic, slice onion or leek and add to the pan. Cook until onion/leek is softening and starting to become transparent. Stir while cooking to avoid burning the garlic.
By this time, kettle should be boiled, so transfer boiling water to a large pot and cook pasta in accordance with packet directions (normally around 7 to 12 minutes).
Dice chicken and add to frying pan. Cook until juices run clear (approx. 5 mins).
Slice silverbeet/spinach and add to frying pan. Stir through with chicken and onion/leek, so the heat of these helps to wilt the greens.
Add cream cheese to frying pan and stir through. As cream cheese is melting through add pesto and chilli sauce. This should just be starting to combine well, as your pasta is ready, so drain pasta and add to the frying pan mixture. Stir well and serve.
Don’t stress about quantities, if you like something, add more of it, or substitute with something else. We often add mushrooms, broccoli, pinenuts, pumpkin seeds, bacon, or chorizo to this recipe. If you like extra sauce, double the cream cheese and/or increase the pesto. Try with sundried tomato pesto instead of basil, if that is more your thing. This recipe is invincible, you can’t hurt it by experimenting. Any genius enhancements, please let me know.
If the cream cheese sauce is too thin, don’t just add water from the tap, try ladling a little water from your boiling pasta pot and add to the mixture to get the desired consistency. The oil and salt in the pasta water helps maintain the flavour of the dish, and the starch helps the sauce stick better to the pasta when served.