Diary of a Foodie

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rigatoni with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

I love a good, creamy pasta, but I can't eat it very often. I created this full-cream, heavy cheesed pasta dish several years ago before I started to care about how big I was or about fat and calories. These days, I'm on a journey to find a healthier and stronger me. So, I need to tweak my current recipes to fit this new attitude.

And while this is not as healthy as, let's say, a plain salad, this is still a healthier version of creamy pastas.

Rigatoni with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

1 lb whole wheat rigatoni
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb sliced baby bella mushrooms (or white button if you can't find them)
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 c fat free half and half
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP  dried chervil
1 TBSP dried tarragon
salt, pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Olive oil

Bring 8 qts of water to a boil with 1/4 c Kosher salt. While bringing your water to a boil, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil in a sauté pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken breasts and cook in sauté pan, about 8 minutes a side, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from pan. Let chicken rest for about 5 minutes, then cut into bite size cubes.

The water should be boiling at this point. Pour pasta into salted water and cook according to package directions, about 12-15 minutes, or until al dente. Drain when cooked through and place pasta back into the pot it was cooked in for assembly.

 Add another 2 TBSP olive oil to the same sauté pan and brown the mushrooms. DO NOT ADD SALT AT THIS POINT. Cook the mushrooms until browned on both sides and then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp Kosher salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper, tarragon and chervil. Remove from pan and place to the side for assembly.

Add 1 c half and half to the sauté pan and scrape the mushroom and chicken bits off the bottom of the pan. This will add flavor to your sauce. Let the cream cook for about 5 minutes, reducing slightly. Add 1 tsp of Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, nutmeg and Parmesan cheese. Stir until well combined.

Pour sauce over drained pasta, add the chicken pieces, cooked mushrooms and stir well. At the last minute, sprinkle in the fresh spinach. The heat of the pasta will wilt it immediately.

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