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Basil Pesto Pasta Salad

By Kipp Rix

Farmington, New Mexico, is located in the Four Corners area of northern New Mexico. We are blessed with hundreds of square miles of pristine hiking and camping areas. I developed this recipe when I took my wife out for an anniversary hike trip several years ago. I precooked the pasta and sealed it in a zipper-sealed bag and packed away all the other ingredients along with my large cast iron fry pan. I cooked this meal over an open wood fire that also added to the flavor. Since then, this has become a staple for all our camping adventures. As with several of my recipes, this recipe lends itself to varied ingredients; in the past I have substituted a variety of sausages, ham, and turkey for the meat. I have added mushrooms, caramelized onion, artichoke hearts, capers, green olives, and the like into the ingredient list. One of the last times I cooked this in the station, I poured the finished pasta into a baking dish, covered it with grated mozzarella cheese, and baked it in the oven at 425°F until the cheese was bubbly and starting to brown.

Shopping List – Serves 4

  • 1 pound spiral pasta
  • ½ pound black pepper bacon
  • 2-3 pounds boneless chicken breast
  • 1 pound small cleaned and peeled shrimp (optional)
  • 8-12 oz. jar basil pesto
  • 6 oz. can black olives, sliced
  • 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers

Cooking Directions

1. In a large pot, cook noodles in well-salted water until done.
2. While noodles are cooking, dice the bacon into ¼-inch pieces. Cook the bacon to crisp in a large fry pan, remove the bacon, and reserving the drippings.
3. Dice the chicken into ½–inch pieces, season with salt and pepper, and cook in the bacon fat until done.
4. Remove the chicken and allow chicken to drain with the bacon pieces. If using shrimp, combine with the chicken and cook for the last 3 minutes of cooking time, allowing shrimp to drain with the bacon also.
5. Drain the cooked pasta and return to the pot.
6. Combine the chicken, shrimp, and bacon with the pasta, stirring to mix completely.
7. Add the jar of pesto, and stir to combine well.
8. Add the olives and sliced red peppers, and stir to combine.

To round out this meal, serve it with a nice green salad or my favorite--a side dish of fresh seasonal grilled vegetables such as yellow or zucchini squash, eggplant, bell peppers, or asparagus. I hope your family or crew enjoys this dish as much as we do.


Kipp's Chicken Al Carbon: Flavor-Packed ChickenKipp Rix started cooking at the age of 10. Watching shows like “The Galloping Gourmet” and “Julia Child,” he learned how to combine different ingredients to come up with different meals. Growing up, Kipp had two dreams: to become a chef and later to become a firefighter. Kipp fed his passion for firefighting as a volunteer with Santa Teresa Fire Department, and his cooking remained a passion at home. Fate had another road, and he soon was caught up working in home repair and construction, finally ending up working in Corporate America for Home Base and Home Depot. Along the way fate once again intervened and moved Kipp to Farmington, New Mexico. It was here that Kipp met Capt. Mike Mestas while doing a home inspection. After some discussion Capt. Mestas convinced Kipp that at the age of 47 he should try out for the fire department. August 2006, Kipp started the Fire Academy at San Juan College and 16 weeks later he graduated with the distinction of being the oldest person to ever graduate and go on to become employed by Farmington Fire. Some rookie firefighters might resist the notion that they would be responsible for the shopping and cooking for their fire house; Kipp enjoyed having the chance to cook, trying old and new recipes on the crew.  

A year into his career, Kipp and engineer Steve G. started talking about their love for riding motorcycles and a dream of one day riding historic RT 66. Plans were in motion. Kipp spent the next year compiling his favorite recipes into his cookbook Fire House Cook Book “Farmington Favorites” and planning the RT 66 trip where he and Steve would ride their bikes and visit fire stations along the way, selling the cookbook and helping to Kipp Rixraise funds for a donation to the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation. Kipp spent the past year working on recipes for his newest cookbook Fire House Cook Book II “14 Days on RT 66,” released in March 2011.

Kipp has been in the fire service for 17 years, working as a volunteer with both Dona Ana County and currently San Juan County Fire as an Asst. District Chief. Presently he is also a career fire fighter with Farmington Fire Department (5 years). Kipp has published two (2) Fire House Cook Books (Fire House Publications, LLC - www.fhpllc.net) and uses a portion of the proceeds to support donations to firefighter’s needs and training fire fighters in the art and skills of Fire Fighter Survival “Getting Out Alive”. In 2010 Kipp became an adjunct instructor with San Juan College in the Fire Science Program, and became a featured chef with Eddie Sell’s FireHouseChefs.com


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