Pesto Pasta with Kale, Cauliflower, and Chicken

I made the most FILLING bowl of pasta. Ever. Last Night. It was epic.

I haven’t made pasta in quite a while and I always find that I am never fully satisfied after one serving, but two servings is just too many points and not always the healthiest choice.

To fix this problem I decided to add an absurd amount of vegetables, especially high-fiber greens and a lean protein. The end result was amazing! And after one serving, I was almost beyond full!

Pesto Pasta with Chicken, Kale, and Cauliflower

Yields: 2 servings

1 serving = 1 cup

1 cup = 10 Points Plus

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 7 oz chicken breast, thinly sliced into strips
  • 10 oz cauliflower, cut into florets (about ½ a head)
  • ½ pound of kale (about 1 bunch), simmered in boiling water for about 8 minutes
  • 3 oz Barilla Plus
  • ½ cup of Pesto Sauce (I used the Weight Watchers recipe which is listed below)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

First, you want to caramelize your red onion. The trick to caramelizing onions and still keeping it healthy…is water.

When caramelizing onions, you want your sauté pan to be on medium heat. Add your oil. Then add your onions. Cook your onions, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the edges begin to brown. Drop the heat to low and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.

The problem is that your onions will start sticking to the pan. When this happens, you instinctively will grab some oil and add it to the pan. STOP! Instead of adding oil, add water. This will deglaze the pan and allow the onions to keep cooking without adding additional fat. If you continue to do this for 30 minutes you will have sweet, delicious (low-fat) caramelized onions.

While the onions are cooking, add your garlic and crushed red pepper.

When your onions are caramelized, add your cauliflower and ¼ cup of water. Cover with a lid and cook for 7-8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Remove the lid and stir until the liquid has evaporated.

Your pasta should be cooking at this point.

While your pasta is cooking, add your kale and chicken strips to the cauliflower

Side Note: To cook kale, first remove the leaves from the woody stems. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt and dump in your kale. Continue to cook the kale for about 8-9 minutes until tender. Drain the kale. Let cool slightly. Place your cooked kale into a kitchen towel and twist the towel in order to drain all the water out. Roughly chop kale and set aside.

Make sure you season your chicken and kale when you add it to the cauliflower. Put the lid on again and let it cook for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

When your chicken mixture is cooked through, place it into a large bowl. Drain your pasta, BUT make sure you save 1-2 cups of the pasta water. Add your drained pasta to the chicken mixture. Toss with ½ cup of pesto and the scallion. Use the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce and bring everything together.

This whole bowl of pasta is pretty much a complete meal. Lean protein, whole grains, dark leafy greens, and some added veggies. I dare you to finish two bowls.

Weight Watchers Pesto Sauce

1 serving = 2 Point Plus

2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

2 cups basil leaves

½ cup fat-free chicken broth

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 tbsp olive

salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Place pine nuts in a small skillet and set pan over medium heat. Cook until nuts are golden, shaking pan frequently to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate to cool.
  • In a blender or food processor, combine nuts, basil, broth, cheese, oil, garlic and salt; process until smooth and thick. Yields about 1/4 cup per serving.
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