1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup pesto
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente then drain and set aside *do not rinse pasta this will remove some of the remaining starch that will help thicken your cream*
Salt and pepper chicken prior to grilling. If time is not an issue I recommend salt and peppering the day before. Grill your chicken making sure to do neat crosshatch grill marks on both sides. this will make your chicken stand out in the dish rather than blending in with the pasta and be lost visually. Remove chicken from grill. I tend to try and under cook the chicken so that when you add it to the pasta and sauce you finish cooking it, rather than overcooking, which will make the chicken dry and fibrous and not very pallet pleasing. Let chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Once chicken has rested, slice in a diagonal direction making the slices about 1/8th inch thick. it is important to make your cuts across the grin of the meat. reason for this is the meat will break down in your mouth easier and prevent the chewy factor that chicken can sometimes have, even if not overcooked.
Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic . Reduce heat and stir in pesto, cream, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper (to taste, be mindful you have salted and peppered your chicken and also your pasta water. You can always add more in the end) . Reduce the sauce to the point that the sauce coats your spoon.
Bringing it all together:
Add your chicken and once again reduce the sauce since the moisture in your chicken will loosen up the sauce. Once the sauce coats your spoon again add your pasta and gently fold to incorporate the chicken and pasta into the pesto cream evenly. When your Pesto cream coats your pasta remove from heat.
Ya know, I really hate dictating to people how to present there creations from the kitchen, but I will give some suggestions. Since this meal was always meant as a family meal and its roots are Italian, I would suggest placing it in a large bowl and garnishing with Parmesan and a few large basil leafs.
I will leave it up to you what you want to serve this with. I typically serve toasted Baguettes with garlic and a fresh Romaine hart salad.