Serve over rice for an easy gluten-free option and you’ll have a quick stovetop meal!
- 2 Tbs. fat or oil
- 1/2 c. onion, diced
- 1/2–1 green or red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2–4 Tbs. prepared pesto
- 2 c. zucchini, cubed or shredded
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 1/2 c. whole milk, divided
- 1 can or 2 c. cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbs. arrowroot starch
- 2 c. cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
- 1/2–1 c. shredded white cheese: mozzarella, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Havarti or white cheddar all work great, with different impacts on the overall flavor, of course
- 2 c. frozen broccoli (or lightly steam 2 c. fresh)
- optional: greens of any kind
- optional: other veggies like artichoke hearts, peas, or just about anything you have in your fridge/freezer
- 4 c. cooked brown rice
- grated Parmesan to serve
- Mince garlic and set aside.
- In a medium-sized, heavy bottomed pot, melt the fat and saute the onions and peppers over medium heat, stirring occasionally until translucent (or a bit further until browned), adding the garlic for the last minute.
- Add the pesto, zucchini, salt, pepper, 1 cup of milk and the beans. Bring to a low boil and carefully whiz into a puree with an immersion blender. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a food processor or blender and puree the beans and cup of cold milk, then add to the pot and heat, stirring often to prevent scorching.)
- Mix the remaining 1/2 cup milk and the arrowroot starch thoroughly and add to the boiling pot. Stir well over the heat to thicken.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the chicken, cheese, broccoli and any other veggies you’d like to include. Heat through, stirring to prevent scorching, and serve over cooked brown rice with freshly grated Parmesan (optional) to pass at the table.
* If the sauce seems too thick, add an extra 1/4-1/2 cup milk at any time.
* Zucchini is optional, but a great way to increase the veggie content without adding any flavor or texture – freeze cubed and/or shredded zucchini when they are abundant and inexpensive in the summer.
* Homemade pesto recipe: 4 garlic cloves, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, 1/4 c., 2 c. packed basil leaves, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 1/4 c. extra virgin . Chop garlic in a food processor; whiz chunk of Parmesan if needed. Nuts next, then basil. Stream in lemon juice and olive oil while running the processor. Makes about 1 c. pesto. You can freeze pesto in 1-tablespoon “plops” on waxed paper for use all winter long.
* This meal is amazing for the bean-haters of the world, but if you’d like to showcase the beans instead of hiding them, don’t puree them at all OR only add half to the puree and include the other half in their whole form.
* No arrowroot starch? Tapioca starch or cornstarch will work just as well. If you don’t need to be gluten-free, you can add 2-4 Tbs. wheat flour to the pot with the garlic. Be sure to cook and stir about 2 minutes to cook the floury taste out, and you might want to add a tablespoon of butter with the flour as well. You could just add a few more beans for a thicker mixture or go for a thinner sauce and skip this step altogether either way.
* Use chicken from roasting a whole chicken or leftover grilled chicken.
* What kind of cheese? Use mozzarella or Monterey Jack for a mild, super-kid-friendly dish, Havarti or sharp cheddar for more flavor and Swiss for the most sophisticated. Havarti and mozzarella are the best creamy melting cheeses. Blend a few for a flavorful and creamy creation that everyone will love!
* Feel free to mix in the rice for a one-pot meal instead of serving over rice. You could make a casserole to share or freeze by mixing everything with the rice and topping it with a bit of additional cheese. Baking 30 minutes at 350F should rewarm it nicely; if the cheese is already on top, cover with a cookie sheet for the first 20-25 minutes and then remove it to brown the cheese.