Pollo is Italian for chicken, so this is a tortellini and chicken appetizer that will wow your guests with very little time and expense on your part!  But that's our secret.

Pasta & Pollo

I made this appetizer recently for a community program that serves our city’s homeless and hungry people.  I like it because it is easy to prepare (even when your goal is 100 pieces) and the result is elegant – not to mention delicious! 

When buying the (relatively few) ingredients, picture the end bite and scale your shopping to your needs.  For example, when I made 100 pieces, I needed 5 large chicken breasts to complete the project.  If you plan to serve 20 bites, you probably can manage with 1 large chicken breast… or 2 to be safe.  Also, as you choose the tortellini, keep in mind that the chicken cube should be roughly the same size as the pasta, so that all of the components look like they go together.  A 20-ounce package of fresh small tortellini will make 20 picks.  I like the tricolor tortellini for this recipe for – obviously – the color!  Any tortellini will work.


Boneless, skinless chicken breast(s)
Fresh cheese tortellini, small to medium
Pesto (store-bought, good quality)
Extra virgin olive oil
Cocktail picks (longer than typical toothpicks, multi-colored)
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Allow time for the chicken and tortellini to cook, cool, be cut (chicken) and assembled.  The components are easier to skewer if they are chilled, as that makes them firmer.  Also, the finished bites can be held in the fridge but taste best at room temperature.

Prepare the chicken.  If starting from raw, preheat the oven to 400 F.  Brush the chicken very lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Bake until the internal temperature is 165 F, about 20 minutes, but keep in mind that ovens vary and so does the size of chicken breasts.  Test with a thermometer.  Put the chicken on a plate, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  Refrigerate.  Another option is to buy precooked chicken breasts from the deli.

You will be using only the center most part of the breast, as you want the chicken to appear as uniformly sized cubes, each about the same size as the tortellini.  The thinner ends of the breast can be saved for another purpose.

Cook the tortellini according to package instructions.  When they are done, drain them and toss with a small amount of olive oil – 2 teaspoons should do it.  This ensures that the tortellini don’t stick together.  Refrigerate.

When you are ready to assemble, cut the chicken into cubes using the plumpest part of the chicken.  Now assemble – tortellino, chicken, tortellino.  Use three tortellini on the pick for a vegetarian option.  Anchor the pasta by pushing the pick squarely through the center while catching the wraps on both sides.

Put the pieces on a serving dish and lightly brush them with pesto – just a hint!  If the pesto is thick, put it in a bowl and add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to loosen it.

Serve chilled or at room temperature (preferred).  Great for parties and platters!

May 25, 2017