Pumped Up Pesto Pasta and Healthy Air Fried Chicken

Pesto and fried chicken are usually synonymous with a lot of fat and densely packed with calories. Well I'm here to change that narrative! By sneaking vegetables into pesto you create extra volume with no extra calories or fats. As for fried chicken, oil is simply not required for that perfectly crispy outside. I use a simple yet flavorful way to bread the chicken and my air fryer for an oil-free way to get extra crispy chicken cutlets!

My struggle with pesto is that for the same reason I love it, I also hate it. Pesto is very dense and by that I mean one tiny teaspoon packs a ton of ingredients and flavor which is great because a little goes a long way- but if you're like me- you'd rather have your pasta drowning in that delicious sauce. Unfortunately, for that to happen you're probably packing an extra 1,000 calories into your meal! Well- I found a simple solution using 3 kitchen staples...


Pumped Up Pesto Pasta

4 servings | 15 minutes


Try mixing it up by topping with other fun proteins like this chipotle shrimp style!

Ingredients:

Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto

  • 4 cups sautéed spinach

  • 3 tbsp half and half

  • Salt, as needed


Pasta:

  • 8 oz whole grain pasta, I used rotini

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 cups broccoli florets

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes

  • 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes

  • Parmesan cheese, for topping


Directions:

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.

  2. Salt the water and add pasta, cooking according to box.

  3. Saute spinach in a sauté pan until wilted. Remove and roughly blend in a blender.

  4. Add pesto and half and half to blender.

  5. Taste pesto and add additional salt as needed, the spinach came dull the flavor of the pesto so you may need to add salt to bring it out again.

  6. Cook veggies as preferred. I used frozen florets and microwaved them to defrost and then added broccoli and tomatoes to the sauté pan for a few minutes to add some color.

  7. Strain pasta and toss with vegetables and pesto.

  8. Serve topped with fresh parmesan and enjoy as is or if your looking for a yummy protein kick scroll down for some healthy oil-free fried chicken!

 


Healthy Air Fried Chicken

4 servings | 20 minutes

How will you serve up this healthy take on fried chicken? Chicken parmesan, over pasta and the classic chicken and fries dipped in ketchup are some of my go to's!

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz chicken breast

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 1 tbsp flour

  • 2 tbsp almond milk

  • 2 tbsp egg whites

  • Optional: sometimes I'll also include grated parmesan!

Obviously you could use an alternative milk or a regular egg. I just like egg whites because I can use just a tbsp or two at a time! Also instead of oregano and basil, you could use 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning or neither! I just like the extra flavor the spices bring.

Directions:

  1. Divide chicken breast into 4 equal portions.

  2. Pound chicken until about 1/2" thick.

  3. Set up three plates to bread your chicken cutlets.

  4. Plate 1: Whisk flour, salt and pepper together.

  5. Plate 2: Whisk egg whites and milk together.

  6. Plate 3: Whisk breadcrumbs, oregano, basil and the optional parmesan together.

  7. Dredge each cutlet in the flour, shaking off any excess, following by a dip in the milk/egg plate and lastly cover each with the breadcrumb layer.

  8. Place cutlets in the air fryer and cook for 15 minutes at 350, flipping halfway.

Cooking times may vary depending on thickness of chicken, if looking cutlets thicker than 1", recommend 20 minutes. If you have a small air fryer it may be easier to cook the chicken in two batches as you don't want to overcrowd it.


Nutrition facts based on just the pumped up pesto recipe and just the air fried chicken recipe. Nutrition does not include pasta and vegetables.


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