Monday, October 25, 2010

Penne with Chicken and Veggies

Before I start rattling off the wonders of this easy, colorful and, of course, delicious recipe, I have a favor to ask. If you are enjoying the blog and the recipes I'm passing along, would you please share the link ( with a friend? Or two? I would appreciate it, and hopefully, so will they!  Thanks!!

Now, on to the important stuff. Food!

This is a recipe I have perfected over the years. One night when the boys were in high school, I suddenly had three extra male teenage stomachs to fill at dinner. I took the chicken breasts I'd been planning to bake, grabbed the red onion from the salad and a couple of boxes of pasta from the pantry and pulled together Penne with Chicken, Red Onion and Walnuts. It was a huge hit and became a family staple. Once hubby and I were empty-nesters, I was able to add a few more ingredients without garnering editorial comments such as "What's the green stuff??"or "Eewww, anchovies?!". Yes, I said anchovies! But don't worry, they melt right in with the butter and olive oil. No one will ever know they're there, except to comment on the wonderful depth of flavor. I admit I pulled this idea from Giada DeLaurentis' recipe for Farfalle with Broccoli. Thanks Giada!

The other night I added sweet red pepper and spinach to the onions and chicken, but any colorful veggie that strikes your fancy will work. Broccoli florets or green pepper or asparagus or even carrots cut in julienne would all make a wonderful pasta dish. And another wonderful thing? It's a two-pot, one dish meal.  Easy to make, easy to clean up.

Buon Appetito!

Penne with Chicken and Veggies
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound of penne or other short pasta such as farfalle (bow-tie) or rotini 
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (that's an estimate - I just ring the bottom of the pan a few times)
1 pound boneless chicken breast or tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbs butter (again, does NOT need to be precise)
3 garlic cloves, minced 
3-5 anchovy filets (they come in a small, flat can and can usually be found with the canned tuna)
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 medium to large red onion, sliced thin
1 medium to large sweet red pepper, sliced thin
1 package baby spinach (doesn't really matter what size it is)
Freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese, to taste

1. Ring a large saute pan (mine is 14 1/2 inches in diameter) with enough olive oil to coat the bottom and heat over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Salt and pepper the chicken cubes, then add to the hot pan. Cook, turning once (the chicken is ready to turn when it no longer sticks to the pan), until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm until ready to use. 

Note: if you don't have a large, teflon-coated saute pan, go buy one. I got mine at Sam's Club and use it all the time.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
3. While water is coming to a boil, prep veggies.

4. Over medium-low heat, once again ring pan with olive oil and add butter. When the butter is sizzling, add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally (this is when the anchovy will do it's disappearing act!). Be careful not to burn either the butter or the garlic.
5. Add the red onion and red pepper to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies soften.

6. While veggies are cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Reserve a cup or so of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Another Note: if using broccoli florets, toss them in with the pasta for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the saute pan.
7. Add spinach to the saute pan with the other veggies (It will look like a whole lot, but believe me, it will cook down to nothing!). Stir until spinach starts to wilt.

8. Add chicken back to pan. Drizzle with olive oil and just enough of the reserved pasta water to moisten.

9. Add the cooked pasta and a healthy grating of parmesan or romano to the pan. Stir until everything is hot. Serve!


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