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Friday, February 25, 2011

Penne with Chicken, Green Beans, and Cashew Butter

This is another one of my favorite meals to make.  It's easy, quick, and delicious. 

1/2 cup roasted cashews
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/3 pounds)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound penne
12 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths

Combine the cashews and the butter in a food processor.  Pulse to a smooth paste. Or, finely chop the cashews and combine with the butter. (I do the latter)
In a medium nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat.  Season the chicken breasts with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and add them to the pan.  Cook until browned and just done, 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool for 5 minutes.  Cut into small pieces.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the penne until just done.  Add the beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking the pasta.  Drain the pasta and beans and toss with the cashew butter, chicken, and the remaining salt and pepper. 

*** I cheat by using the Tyson frozen chicken breast strips.  We like the rotisserie chicken from Sam's club.  I will often use the leftover chicken on the following day for this recipe.  If you choose to do this, then you may need to adjust the amount of salt that you use. 
*** Another note, I use the mini penne since we have a couple of little mouths in our family.  Also, you do not have to use cashews.  You can use almost any nut you choose including almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pecans. 
Enjoy!  Here is a picture of the finished product.

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