Wow! – is all I can say about the recipe featured in this post…I made it recently for my boyfriend and I and we both couldn’t stop raving about it. Now, I come from a very Italian family and as part of our Italian duty we have pasta every Sunday for dinner. Most people who don’t do this think it sounds like a great idea – “I love pasta, you are so lucky!” and “Yum, can I come over for Sunday dinner?” – are things I hear all the time to which I usually respond, quite sarcastically, that they can actually attend in my place because I have come to loathe Sunday dinner. It’s not that I don’t like pasta – I do – but every week it is the same thing, it’s never jazzed up, never anything new, always some form of pasta with red sauce and meatballs. In other words – its boring.
Recently, however, my parents took their traditional start of winter vacation leaving the kitchen – and Sunday pasta – to me. So, what did I do? I instantly went to my “Main Dishes and Well Wishes” Pinterest board and directly to this recipe which I had been dying to try for months. And let me tell you it was well worth the wait as this could possibly be one of the best recipes I’ve tried that I found on Pinterest.
I would not say it is a simple dish to make and it is definitely not a one pot meal (see picture of cooking process below) but the effort, especially marinating the chicken, is well worth it. I started with the chicken marinade first and (of course) made a few tweaks. The first thing I changed was that I used dry instead of fresh herbs…anyone who knows me knows I hate herbs and spices and usually will keep my seasoning to salt, pepper, and garlic powder so the fact that I included the herbs was a huge step for me. Because I was using dried herbs I used less than the recipe called for – I used only 1 tsp of thyme. I nixed the rosemary all together as I didn’t have any in the house and since I don’t like the taste anyway I wasn’t going to buy any. I also used a 1lb package of chicken tenderloins so they would be easier to work with – I marinated the whole pound in the bowl with the marinade for about 40 minutes.
When the chicken was done marinating I put my pasta water on the stove to boil and started on the garlic sauce. Changes to this? Only two. We keep a giant jar of pre-minced garlic in the house so I used 2 tbsp of that instead of the 4 fresh cloves the recipe called for. I also cut the basil to 3/4 of a tsp. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. Make sure you have the heat high enough that the sauce simmers (there should be bubbles) but not so high that the bottom burns, especially when it starts to thicken. Also, make sure you are stirring occasionally once it thickens or you will get a film over the top like you do on turkey gravy.
The most major change I made was I used rigatoni pasta instead of spaghetti. I cannot tell you why because I do not know but for some reason I have never liked spaghetti – it just bothers me – so I seldom use it in cooking. I actually think the rigatoni held the sauce and seasonings better so I think it was a good choice. Another major change was I did not use the 2 full cups of cherry tomatoes (I used 1 small container). Instead of the extra tomatoes, I threw in about a cup of broccoli florets with my chicken when the chicken was nearly done cooking. I did this a) because broccoli is my favorite vegetable and b) it added some nice color to the dish.
My pasta was the last thing done so when it was cooked I drained it and put it back in the pot. Then I dumped in the tomatoes, chicken, broccoli, and the parmesan cheese and gave it a good mix. Then I just sprinkled some parsley in – I didn’t measure but I definitely didn’t use as much as the recipe advised – added a little more cheese and dumped all of the sauce over that. I know the recipe said to add the sauce to the chicken and then add that to the pasta but I thought I would get a more even coating adding the sauce last. That’s it – I just gave it a good mix and it was ready to serve!
The finished product was great – you taste the lemon of the chicken but it’s not overpowering and is just enough to brighten up the flavor. Also, I actually didn’t mind the herbs and the garlic sauce is great and could probably match nicely with a number of dishes! I’m tempted to make this for a barbecue in the summer and see how it does cold as a pasta salad…we’ll see. The recipe also made the perfect amount for 2 – maybe 3 – people. My boyfriend and I had 2 bowls each and there were some leftovers but not a huge amount so if cooking for more than 2 people you may want to double the recipe.
I will definitely be making this again (and suggesting it for Sunday night dinner!)
What about you? Does your family have a dinner tradition or frequent dish you wish they would get rid of? How would you tweak it to make it better?