Diabetic Cooking

“Pappardelle” of Chicken With Winter Pesto

The Italian word pappardelle derives from the Italian verb pappare, to gobble up — which is exactly what you’ll do with this dish. According to chef Rocco DiSpirito, “As I was contemplating how to create it, it occurred to me: Why not make noodles out of the protein? Thinly sliced chicken cooked quickly makes a wonderful stand-in for the rustic pappardelle-style pasta.”

Dressed with nutritious escarole and a hint of winter spices, this recipe will bring you down from carb overload and energize you with a protein punch.

“[Being a chef] is the most fulfilling thing I’ve done….I’ve reversed people’s diabetes and gotten people off their high blood pressure meds.”

Read more about chef Rocco DiSpirito here.

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes.


  • 2 quarts water
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of paprika
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups finely chopped escarole
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Kitchen Basics)
  • Salt
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced lengthwise into strips 1∕8 inch thick
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated on a Microplane grater


1. Bring 2 quarts water to a simmer in a medium pot; you will be using this to poach the chicken strips.

2. Lightly coat a medium skillet with olive oil cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the cinnamon, paprika, red pepper flakes, basil leaves, and onion. Cook until the onion has softened, about 2 minutes. Add the escarole and cook until it has wilted and softened, another 2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add a pinch of salt to the now-simmering water. Turn off the heat and add the chicken and stir so that all the strips are separated. Cook just until the strips have turned white; they will be half-cooked. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the strips to a plate to cool.

4. Check the escarole mixture; you want to cook it until most of the stock has evaporated and it looks like thick soup or sauce, then turn off the heat. Stir in half the cheese and season with salt to taste. Add the chicken strips, toss them to coat with the mixture, and continue to cook until the chicken strips have cooked through, about 90 seconds. Spoon the mixture onto four plates, dividing it equally; top with the remaining cheese; and serve.

Tips: For a nutty, negative calorie protein, add 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts to the skillet after the garlic has browned.

Place the chicken breast in the freezer for a half hour prior to slicing. It will be much easier to slice and you will get nice thin strips.

Yield: 4 servings .

Serving size: 1/4 of recipe.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 176 calories, Carbohydrates: 8.25 g, Protein: 28.5 g, Fat: 3 g, Sodium: 267 mg, Fiber: 2.5 g

Recipe courtesy of chef Rocco DiSpirito.