Mary’s Farfalla with Grilled Chicken


My 14-year old son Josh loves anything cooked by his best friend Sammy’s mom, Mary.

“Mom, can you make me sandwiches like the ones Sammy’s mom makes?” I oblige by going to the supermarket and calling Mary on the cell phone in the aisles, asking her the exact brand of the bread, mayo, cold cuts, and cheese. I want to make sure that I reproduce her amazing sandwiches perfectly.

Last month, Josh came home from an overnighter at Sammy’s.

“How was your time there?” I ask.

“Oh, the toast at breakfast…” he replies dreamily, which forces me to get on the phone once again.

“Mary, what is the secret ingredient of your toast? Josh says it was so good.”

Mary replies, “Smuckers.”

So the next morning, I serve my son toast with butter and Smuckers.

“That’s pretty good, Mom,” he declares. “But not as good as Sammy’s mom’s.”

Of course.

He then spends the next couple of days gushing about this pasta dish he had at Sammy’s house.

“What was in it, Josh?” I ask.

“Well, it had bow tie pasta, pesto sauce, grilled chicken, and toasted pine nuts.”

“Mmmm…I love toasted pine nuts, but it’s so easy to burn them,” I remark.

“Yeah, good thing Sammy’s dad likes burnt ones. He didn’t let her throw away the first batch.”

Well, it was good to know that Mary is human, after all.

From the description, it sounded like a dish I would also enjoy, so I called Mary one more time. I got her recipe and made it for my family, and it was a hit. Even Josh thought it was good. Of course, not as good as when Sammy’s mom makes it, but good enough!

Here’s her super secret recipe for you all to enjoy:



  • 3 tbsp. pine nuts
  • Pesto Butter (recipe follows)
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 oz. dry Farfalle (bow tie shaped) pasta
  • ¼ cup dry white wine (or water)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp. chopped roasted red pepper (dry)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1- 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup lightly packed parsley (fresh)
  • ½ cup lightly packed basil leaves (fresh)
  • 1 green onion (including top)
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup butter (melted)


Spread pine nuts on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Prepare Pesto Butter. Cook chicken in frying pan until cooked through. Cut chicken into ½ inch wide bite-size strips. While chicken is cooking, boil pasta just until tender, drain well and set aside. In a wide frying pan, combine Pesto Butter and wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbly (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring often. Season sauce to taste with salt then add roasted red pepper (2 tsp. can be too spicy for kids – I use about 1), pasta, chicken and Parmesan cheese. Mix lightly using 2 spoons. Sprinkle with remaining pine nuts.

Pesto Butter

In a blender or food processor combine 2 tbsp. pine nuts, garlic, coarsely chopped parsley and basil, green onion, olive oil, butter and pepper. Whirl until well combined (about 2 minutes).