Linguine with Pea Pesto, Grilled Asparagus and Chicken

I accidentally managed to make this delightfully green meal on St Patrick’s Day, which just shows what your subconscious can do when you let it!  The actual purpose of the meal was so that I could serve something vegetarian but that could easily have meat added to it with neither party losing out of flavour as my sister was coming for a surprise Mother’s Day visit.  This fit the bill nicely.

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I originally got the idea for pea pesto into my head and went searching for inspiration.  Smitten Kitchen’s one popped up and I trust all her recipes implicitly… doesn’t mean I can resist tweaking things though!  We tend to favour more sauce in my family… or, my Dad does and so we go with it!  I also thought the addition of asparagus and grilled chicken rounds it out nicely to make it a proper meal.  I am on a budget so salted cashews work nicely as you don’t add salt later.  And I’m sorry for mixing my units in the recipe but it’s the easiest way to measure each one I find!

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Serves 4

2 cups frozen peas
5tbsp salted cashew nuts
90g parmesan or hard cheese, finely grated (Sainsbury’s is veggie)
1 large clove garlic, very roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large bundle asparagus
4 chicken breasts
500g linguine, cooked as per the packet

– Boil a small pan of water and add about 1/4 tsp salt.
– Add your peas and cook for 4-5 minutes until they’re floating.
– Drain and immediately rinse with cold water.  Set aside in a pan of cold water.
– In a food processor blitz your cashews until they’re very finely chopped.
– Add the peas (reserving about 4 tbsp), parmesan and garlic.
– Blitz for about 2-3 minutes until totally smooth, adding the olive oil down the funnel at the end.
– To prepare your asparagus, grasp the base of the stalk with both hands and run one hand up the stalk, bending slightly until it snaps off the bottom 1 1/2″ or so.  This removes the tough lower stalk leaving you with tender bits.
– Spray/drizzle the asparagus and chicken with olive oil
– Grill your asparagus and chicken.  I think about 7 minutes per side for the chicken and about 10 mintes all told for the asparagus.  I use a health grill for the asparagus and a regular grill for the chicken.  If you only have one, cook the asparagus first then set aside in a warm oven while you do the chicken.
– Drain your linguine and reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water.
– Toss the linguine and pesto, adding enough water to loosen it a bit.
– Scatter the top with the reserved peas and asparagus, cut into thirds.  You could also slice the chicken and serve in with the pasta if you aren’t worrying about keeping things veggie.

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