Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chicken Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil in a Light Cream Sauce

With summer coming to an end I still have a good bit of fresh basil on hand, so today I'm making a pasta dish that is best when prepared with this garden fresh ingredient. You can of course use dried but it's better with fresh.

Julian's Creamy Chicken Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes
Unlike some of its creamy cousins, this pasta is not extremely rich and overly heavy on dairy. The sauce makes a light cream sauce and is freshened by the basil and sun dried tomatoes.

Ingredients (serves 2)
Cooking the Vegetables
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion
1/2 cup mushroom stems and pieces (optional)
1 cup dry white wine
1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of paprika
1 cup half and half (cream/milk blend)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces pasta, Penne or similar
10-15 leaves fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more
1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water or more
grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Instructions
Drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil and reserve the oil. Slice the tomatoes into smaller, bite-sized pieces, preferably in strips. Cut the chicken breast into slices then cut again into rectangular bite-sized pieces. Cook pasta according to package instructions. When boiling add the pasta and cook along side the remaining ingredients.

Crush the garlic and chop the onion. In a large non-stick skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of the reserved oil. When hot cook onion for 3-4 minutes and then add the garlic and optional mushrooms. Stir for one minute more. Add half the wine and simmer until reduced almost completely. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another minute. Remove the ingredients from the pan leaving the oil. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through and slightly browned. Add additional oil from the tomatoes if needed during cooking. Remove the chicken to rest with the vegetables.

Reserve a cup of cooked pasta water then drain the pasta completely when al dente.

Reduce heat on the skillet to medium and all the other half of the white wine. Deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits and simmer to reduce until only about half the wine remains. Add half and half and cheese to the skillet and simmer while stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine.

Tear in the fresh basil and add the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add reserved pasta water as needed to correct the consistency, sometimes only required for left overs. Taste and correct seasoning by adding more salt, pepper and pepper flakes if needed. Let simmer for a minute or two to permit flavors to combine with pasta. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

Ready to Plate

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