This isn’t quite the post I was planning. I’ve been toying for a while with a salmon and pesto en croûte made with gluten-free puff pastry and I thought that I was going to iron out some irksome problems with it this weekend. Unfortunately, this was not to be. I did at least manage to avert the bane of most bakers’ lives – the dreaded soggy bottom – with a judiciously applied pancake (à la Beef Wellington) and although it tasted delicious (even my glutenista of a husband thought so!!!), it was hardly photogenic. I’m not vain on my food’s behalf but, I think that if you’re trying to entice people into going to all the trouble of buying ingredients and cooking them, then a decent photo goes a long way. But I couldn’t cook it again so soon. Even I can’t eat that much puff pastry in a week, gluten free or not.
So I had no recipe to post that I was entirely happy with.  What’s more, I had no dinner planned for yesterday evening either. What I did have, though, was the rest of the tub of pesto, some crème fraîche and some pasta. All it needed was a quick trip to the supermarket to procure some chicken and, hey presto, the following dish was born. Truly serendipitous. I love it when a non-plan comes together.
Creamy pesto chicken pasta
Serves 2
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
300ml chicken stock
130g fresh pesto
2 heaped dessertspoons crème fraîche (I use half-fat)
2 skinless, boneless chicken fillets (about 250g), cut into bite-sized pieces
200g gluten-free pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large, deep sauté pan (it needs to be big enough to hold the sauce and the pasta combined). Add the onion and gently fry until softened but not coloured. This should take about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer gently for another couple of minutes. Stir in both the pesto and the crème fraîche and bring back up to a simmer.

Add the chicken and allow to gently poach in the sauce for 10 minutes or until cooked through*. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions in a large saucepan of boiling salted water. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce. Stir to combine. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a green side salad.

*I always cook chicken breast in a sauce in this way to avoid the meat toughening up and going stringy. You could substitute chicken thigh meat for the breast but I would brown this off first, remove from the pan before cooking the onions and add back in once the sauce is made. It may not need such a long cooking time.

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