Does this pasta scream spring or what??

Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about the weather, but the colder it gets, and the more it snows, the more I crave SPRING!

Anyway, how was everyone’s Easter?!? For once, I actually took it kind of easy on Saturday. My energy has been super low since getting my wisdom teeth yanked last week. On Sunday morning I was in a lot of pain. Unfortunately the pain has actually gotten worse instead of better. Thinking I may need to get it checked out today.

Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

But for real, how was everyone Easter? I spent a tiny amount of Saturday night hiding Easter eggs with my younger brother Red for little Asher to run around and find on Sunday. I think Red and I may have gone a bit too far though, because Asher only found about half. Ooops!

Thing is Red spent Easter Sunday on a plane headed to…ahhhh….I dunno I forgot. I think maybe Chicago for one leg and then off to some other country to do more snowboarding. Or maybe it was a shoot for a snowboard mag first, and then out of the country. Not sure, but the kid lives the life of a rock star. He spent all last week riding in the back country of Wyoming filming for a part in some movie. Details clearly are not really my thing. All I know is that I saw some of the shots and it looked pretty fun.

Anyway, after Red and I hid the eggs and spent our five minutes of older sister, younger brother time together, we said our goodbyes (aka adios amigo…later Tiegs). Then mom and I quickly ran down to Target for some last-minute goodies for Asher’s basket. You see, I had promised Asher that I would get her something fun for Easter, but then I didn’t… which meant Target with mom at eight o’ clock the night before. I used to be so organized…what happened to me? I got her a cute little summer inspired outfit for our upcoming trip to CA to visit the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I promised her that as soon as I turned in my book manuscript I would take her. Man, I make that girl a lot of promises.

So yeah, that was kind of my Easter in four hundred words. Oh, and when the parents dropped off Red off at the airport yesterday, they picked up Kai, who is here for a whole week on spring break, yeah! You loose one brother, you gain another. Life balance?

Forgot to add that Mom made me a KILLER Easter basket. Malley’s chocolate bunnies, strawberries and passion fruits. OKay, kind of an odd basket, but not for me. I’m pumped about the passion fruit, I’ve been looking for it for weeks, yeah!!

Also, is it weird that I am twenty-two and my mom still makes me a basket?!? It might be lame, but I love it and I love her for it. I also love her for coming over just to help me make my bed on Sunday night. I mean, I can make my own bed (although those duvet covers are not easy). But when mom helps me? It’s extra special. You know? She gives it that motherly touch!

Ahh but OK.

PASTA talk time!

Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Oh how I love this Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta. It’s quick, simple and delicious. Light, but filling, healthy, but still totally satisfying in every which way. One of my favorite ways to prepare asparagus in the spring time is the grill. Grilled or roasted are both great, but I think I like grilled best, it just gives the asparagus an awesome flavor.

Believe it or not, this recipe idea came solely from the concept that I wanted to char up some asparagus on the grill. From there I built-in this pasta and added in some yummy seasoned chicken for protein. You see the pasta was necessary to in order to satisfy my carb fix… and to add a little cream for sauciness. I also incorporated some goat cheese – for its yum factor, and greens + herbs – for their color and flavor!

So here’s how this pasta goes:

…start by seasoning the chicken

…make a quick pesto like sauce consisting of toasted sunflower seeds, spring greens, basil and olive oil

….bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta

…grill, sear or roast your chicken + asparagus

….boil the pasta and toss it with a splash of cream and the pesto, plus some goat cheese…duh

…add the chicken + asparagus

….eat and eat and eat!!

So you see, pretty simple, and full of so much yumminess! Also, this dish is quick to prepare, making it the PERFECT Monday night meal. If you are vegetarian, the chicken can be omitted completely or replaced with tofu OR chickpeas (which would be my choice). You can also use shrimp and salmon in place of the chicken too! Oh and I do also highly recommend an extra drizzle of lemon just before serving. I am on a huge lemon kick lately – so refreshing, and so good for you!

Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

If you’re not a fan of goat cheese…wait who am I kidding, of course you love goat cheese right? I mean, I am not sure we can be friends otherwise.

JUST KIDDING.

But you know I love goat cheese. If you don’t, I would recommend buffalo mozzarella, buratta or feta. All would be great options. Just don’t skip the cheese. Hey, it’s Monday, Mondays need cheese.

Obviously.

Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

Print

Charred Asparagus Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 0 SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

Chicken + Asparagus

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • zest + juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 bunch asparagus ends trimmed

Sunflower Pesto and Goat Cheese Pasta

  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds toasted (any nut/seed will work great)
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup spring greens (arugula baby kale, kale or another cup of fresh basil)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pound long cut pasta use gluten free if needed
  • 1/3 cup full-fat canned coconut milk or heavy cream
  • 4-6 ounces goat cheese crumbed
  • radish flowers for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large gallon size zip-top bag or bowl, combine the chicken, brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, thyme, lemon zest + juice, salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to evenly combine.
  2. Place the asparagus in a large baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt + pepper.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine the sunflower seeds, basil, spring greens, garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, pinch of crushed red pepper and salt. Pulse until combined and the sauce looks like pesto. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  5. Heat a large skillet, grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and grill until char marks appear and the chicken is cooked through, about 5-8 minutes per side. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your chicken. Remove the chicken from the grill and tent with foil.
  6. Add the asparagus to the grill and grill until charred, about 5 -8 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
  7. Boil the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and add pasta right back to the hot pot. Add the the sunflower seed pesto, 1/3 cup of coconut milk or heavy cream and half of the goat cheese. Toss well to combine. Cut the asparagus into thirds and the chicken into bite size pieces. Add to the hot pasta and toss gently to combine.
  8. Serve pasta hot with the remaining goat cheese. EAT!

Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

YUP. Make Mondays doable with plenty of carbs + cheese. Yep, you’re welcome. 🙂

Charred Asparagus and Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta with Blackened Lemon Chicken | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest