Thursday, October 17, 2013

Creamy Garlic Chicken Pasta

There is a really good reason why I don't meal plan.  I want to eat what I am in the mood to eat on any given day, and meal planning puts a damper on that.  Plus, now that I am not teaching anymore, I have the flexibility and time to go grocery shopping every day.  Yesterday, I was going to make my quick cook chicken soup with beer bread or cornbread, but my daughters had been begging for pasta all week.  I knew I had to use the 2 chicken breasts I had in my fridge, so I put together this pasta dish, never having made pasta with a white sauce before.  I looked at some recipes online, became frustrated, and decided to wing it.  The result was pretty darn good, if I don't say so myself.  :-)

I cut my chicken breasts into small pieces, and sauteed them with garlic, olive oil, and  a generous amount of kosher salt. 

Here's the final product.  It doesn't look like much, but it was really flavorful from all the garlic and cheese.  My daughter Emma is so addicted to Romano cheese, she usually begs me for more cheese non-stop when we eat pasta.  Thankfully, she didn't ask for more cheese once, and I was able to eat my dinner in peace. 

As a side dish, I served steamed broccoli.  About 20 years ago, I used to eat a chicken and broccoli pasta dish with a white cream sauce at Abate, a restaurant in Pittsburgh.  If my children were more enthusiastic about broccoli, I probably would have tossed it in with the pasta.  

Creamy Garlic Chicken Pasta


1 pound of gluten free pasta - cooked according to package directions
2 chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/4 lbs) - cut into small pieces
olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
kosher salt
3/4 C half & half
2 T butter
1/4 C Romano and/or Parmesan cheese - grated
1/4 C Asiago cheese - grated
Optional - 2 cups of chopped baby spinach


Pour just enough olive oil in a large stainless steel frying pan to coat the bottom, turn your burner to medium heat, and add the raw chicken.  Season it well with kosher salt, and cook on both sides before adding the garlic.  Stir the garlic and chicken for a minute or two before removing your pan from the burner.  If you are using spinach, add it when the garlic begins to brown, and cook it for a minute or two until it begins to wilt.

Cook your pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, put the half & half and butter in a small pot over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add the cheese, remove from the heat, and stir until the cheese is melted.

Drain your pasta, then combine your pasta, chicken, and sauce in your pasta pot or a large serving bowl, stirring well.  Add more grated cheese, if needed.  

February 13, 2014 Update

Tonight, I added two cups of chopped baby spinach to our creamy garlic chicken pasta.  It's a lot prettier to look at, and it didn't change the taste of the dish at all.  My twins didn't even mention it, but they are used to eating spinach.  This was my daughters' choice for an early Valentine's Day meal.  When adding spinach, there might be some liquid in the pan after sauteeing it, so I use a slotted spoon to scoop out my chicken and spinach when adding it to my pasta.  

February 25, 2015 Update

Last night, I made this pasta dish with 1/2 cup of shaved Italian cheese blend (Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago) from The Fresh Market, and garnished it with the same cheese.  My daughter Emma was so excited for dinner, because this has become her favorite pasta dish.  She begs me to make pasta with cream sauce all the time, with or without chicken.  Next time, I might add a little coarse ground black pepper.


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