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Cilantro-Serrano Pesto with Grilled Chicken and Penne

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.

Cooking Light JANUARY 2005

  • Yield: 6 cups (serving size: 1 cup)


  • 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


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.

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.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 429
  • Calories from fat: 29%
  • Fat: 13.8g
  • Saturated fat: 3.5g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 6.5g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.9g
  • Protein: 28.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 47.1g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Cholesterol: 60mg
  • Iron: 11.5mg
  • Sodium: 492mg
  • Calcium: 104mg

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Cilantro-Serrano Pesto with Grilled Chicken and Penne recipe