From Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World: A Cookbook by Sam Kass
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound mini penne or any pasta shape you like
1/2 garlic clove
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts or pecans, toasted
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to finish
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces, warm or room temperature
1/2 pound baby spinach
simply roasted chicken breasts
2 skin-on chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Cook the pasta in boiling salty water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the water. While the pasta cooks, drop the garlic into a food processor with the motor running and process until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the basil, nuts, cheese, half the oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pulse to a coarse puree. With the motor running, add the remaining oil in a slow stream and keep processing until pretty smooth. Toss the hot pasta with the pesto, chicken, spinach and 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Gradually add more of the pasta water if the dish seems dry. Season with salt to taste and top with more grated or shaved parmesan.
To make the simply roasted chicken breasts: Preheat the oven to 450℉. Put the chicken breasts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and coat with the oil. Season generously all over with salt, about 1 teaspoon total. Roast them skin-side up until lightly browned and fully cooked but still juicy, about 20 minutes. Let them rest on a cutting board for a few minutes, then cut into bite-sized pieces.