Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bellagio - Basil Pesto Pasta with Fried Chicken and Arugula

I was in Vegas last week for a quick stopover and went to my favorite casino, the Bellagio.  When I got home, it hit me that I'd been wanting to try and mimic Cheesecake Factory's "Bellagio" pasta dish.  I did a quick inventory and realized I had everything I needed to make it so I started by thawing a chicken breast.

I gathered a good fistful of basil, a large clove of garlic and a palm full of pine nuts.  I added it all to the food processor along with a dash of salt and pepper.  I added enough olive oil to get it to all come together.  I put it in a container to sit and get comfortable together.

I got some water boiling and when the chicken breast was soft enough, I placed it on a paper plate, covered it with plastic wrap and pounded it out some.  It's amazing that a single boneless, skinless chicken breast can spread out enough to practically double in size.  I mixed some regular bread crumbs with some panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and some dried italian herbs (oregano, parsley, basil).  I rubbed the chicken breast with some olive oil and then coated it with the bread crumb mixure.

I heated some bacon grease (about 2 tablespoons) in a pan and dropped a bread crumb in to watch for the sizzle.  That let me know when it was ready to drop the chicken in.  I eased the chicken breast into the grease.

I went out and grabbed a big handful of arugula along with a few tomatoes (grape and cherry).  I washed the veggies and diced the tomatoes.

When I could see that the chicken was cooked on one side and nice and golden brown, I flipped it.  I then added a big handful of angel hair pasta to the boiling (salted) water.  I grabbed another pan and put it on a low heat and added the pesto.

I grabbed some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the cheese grater for the ready.

When the chicken was golden brown on the second side, I removed it from the grease and placed it on a paper towel to grab some of the excess grease.

I then pulled the pasta out of the pot and put it in the pan with the basil pesto.  Don't worry about draining the pasta.  You'll want some of the pasta water to loosen up the pesto and get it to adhere to the pasta.  With the tongs, I kept turning the pasta in the pesto until it was coated.

Place the pasta onto plates, cut the chicken breast in half and place on top of the pasta.  Put the arugula on top and then the tomato dice.  Cover with cheese.

Of course I served with olive oil drizzled, toasted artisan bread.  This was enough for two people.  We were stuffed when finished but cleaned our plates.  I think I nailed the dish!  Hope you like it.

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