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Cilantro-Serrano Pesto with Grilled Chicken and Penne

Photo: Randy Mayor
Yield 6 cups (serving size: 1 cup)
This pesto incorporates ingredients Disbrowe finds on the ranch: cilantro and pecans. Cotija is an aged Mexican cheese available in many supermarkets and in any Latin grocery. Substitute Parmesan if you can't find cotija. If the sauce is too thick, loosen it with a little hot cooking water from the pasta.


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 cups hot cooked penne pasta (about 3 ounces uncooked)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

Nutrition Information

  • calories 429
  • caloriesfromfat 29 %
  • fat 13.8 g
  • satfat 3.5 g
  • monofat 6.5 g
  • polyfat 1.9 g
  • protein 28.2 g
  • carbohydrate 47.1 g
  • fiber 2.4 g
  • cholesterol 60 mg
  • iron 11.5 mg
  • sodium 492 mg
  • calcium 104 mg

How to Make It

  1. Place cilantro and next 6 ingredients (through chile) in a food processor; process until well blended. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute; process until well blended. Place pesto in a large bowl; stir in vinegar and black pepper.

  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat chicken with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken, pasta, and tomatoes to pesto; toss to combine.