I love to take meals to people. You got a sick kid? Lemme bring you a meal. Your husband is in the field all week, you have a dentist appointment, speech, and soccer to take your kids too? Girl, I’ll drop of dinner! Taking meals to friends is something I love to do. It’s such an easy and tangible way to come alongside someone to let them know they’re not alone. In the last month I’ve offered to bring a meal to several sweet friends who had sick kiddos or husbands in the field. And every once in a while I get met with a little confusion. One friend said, “Were you having this for dinner? How did you have time to make this? You just had the ingredients on hand?” To which I said- “I always have this meal on hand to take to a friend.” It’s easy, it’s tasty, it feeds as many as it needs to, and most importantly, it’s simple but tastes a little fancy. It’s Chicken Pesto Pasta.
The reason I love this meal is because you can dress it up as much as you want or as little as you want. And by that I mean, you don’t have to measure anything specifically. Also, You can substitute all sorts of things based on the dietary needs of who you’re delivering to. You can drop it off hot. Or it can be made ahead, stuck in a fridge, and heated up in the oven. You can get away with as little as 3 ingredients or add things in. To start, I always have these three ingredients in my pantry:
Any kind that tickles your fancy. Organic. Gluten free. Banza. The cheap blue box whose brand name I don’t remember but can picture perfectly because it’s on every grocery store shelf ever. Dealer’s choice here, people.
I love a pesto for the fridge that has some fresh parmesan in it. But there’s tons of different brands that you can just put in the pantry for a rainy day.
I, obviously, keep this in my freezer and not in the pantry. But I always have two chicken breasts packaged alone to use for this meal. When I take someone a meal, the next time I buy chicken, I just put two aside for future meal deliveries.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Spinach (If you’re feeling particularly fancy and also you aren’t delivering to children because those kids will for sure reject this dish with wilty spinach that only grown ups seem to enjoy.)
First, boil the pasta. How much you ask? Easy answer: However much you need! Customize this to the needs of your people. Make too much? Add more pesto at the end. We’re not shooting for perfection here!
Then, you cook the chicken. I like to use two chicken breasts because I live in a home with extreme carnivores whose life mantra could be “More Meat, More Better!” I cube the chicken, sauté it in olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. But what if it’s only for two people? Do I still need two chicken breasts? Probably not. But make enough pasta for your own household and split the chicken between the two dishes. Boom. Two dinners with one…pan…?
When your chicken is done, add in the cherry tomatoes with some minced garlic. Sauté that all together until your tomatoes are soft. Then add in your spinach if you have it and let that cook down into basically nothing, as spinach so rudely does when you sauté it.
Guess what girls, that’s it. Chuck that all into a pan. Preferably a disposable one because not having to return someone’s Pyrex dish is so freeing. Dump in some pesto. Sprinkle with some mozzarella cheese and you’re done! I like to put tinfoil on the top and write in *very* fancy sharpie marker: “Heat in oven at 350 for 20ish minutes.”
Store that baby in your own fridge until you take it to a friend or heat it up right before you leave. I’m telling you- this is the easiest meal ever.
But what if they are gluten free? Easy. Gluten free pasta. What if they are dairy free? Have dairy-free pesto OR substitute for any other pasta sauce. You cannot mess this meal up. Trust me.
We’re all busy. We all have a lot going on. In my own life I can’t tell you the relief it has brought to me to not have to make dinner on a night when a day, a week, or a season feels really hard and overwhelming. I love to take meals to people because I love when someone has gone out of their way to bring me a meal. Sometimes a friend hasn’t even expressed to me that they are overwhelmed, but I offer to drop a meal off anyways. Why? Because coming alongside other women doesn’t require a reason other than they’re our friends. Taking a friend a meal is a great way to be intentional in relationships.
I hope this meal is one that you can stick in your recipe box (or save to your phone for all you young cool people) and pull out for a rainy day for someone who might need it. But, honestly, it’s so easy I hope you’ll read the ingredients once or twice an realize it’s the simplest meal to have on hand to take to a friend even on short notice.
Easy Chicken Pesto Pasta
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins + 20 mins baking
- 2 Chicken Breasts
- Cherry Tomatoes (1 carton)
- Garlic (4-5 cloves, minced)
- Spinach (Who knows. A cup? 2 cups? The whole bag will cook down to nothing so just whatever you think here is fine)
- Pesto (Probably the whole jar but really however much you feel)
- Cheese (Do we need to measure cheese? We do? Ok, then 2 massive handfuls)
- Boil water and cook desired amount of pasta following directions for whatever type of pasta you choose.
- Drain pasta and put in baking dish
- Cube two chicken breasts
- In a medium skillet heat 3 TBS of olive oil. On medium heat add in chicken with desired seasonings.
- When chicken is finished, add in cherry tomatoes and garlic. Sauté until garlic is fragrant and tomatoes are soft.
- Add in spinach if desired. Cook until spinach is just wilted.
- Add entire contents of skillet to the dish with the pasta.
- Toss in pesto or other pasta sauce.
- Top with cheese.
- Cover and store in fridge for later. Or cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is melted.