Friday, April 3, 2009

Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, and Walnuts

Yes, another recipe; sorry. (My family fusses when I post too many cooking entries.) This is a good one, though- another quick and easy meal modified from a recipe I found in Real Simple magazine. The original recipe is Orecchiette with Roasted Broccoli and Walnuts but there were a few things I didn't like about it. First of all the fat content is WAY too high, so I eliminated most of the butter and olive oil. 1/4 cup? I mean really. Olive oil is a healthy fat but still needs to be consumed in moderation. ~:-P I didn't like the walnuts roasted for as long as the recipe called for either; they got bitter. So if you're not roasting the walnuts there's really no reason to roast the broccoli, so now I either boil or steam it. I also added left over chicken to up the protein. (I need my protein; I might try this with canellini beans instead of the chicken to keep it vegetarian one of these days.) Well, anyway, you'll see.

Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, and Walnuts

~ One package of pasta, I like medium shells, cooked according to package directions and drained, reserving a cup of the cooking water
~ One head of broccoli cut into bite sized florets OR one bag of frozen broccoli florets (if you use the frozen this can be a "pantry meal")
~ Cooked chicken chopped into bite sized pieces (I fished some chicken out of leftover chicken soup) (would probably be good with other proteins as well)
~ 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (they sell them chopped; why get the whole ones and have extra work?)
~ Romano or Parmesan cheese to taste
~ Drizzle of olive oil
~ 1/4 pat of butter or less per serving
~ Sea salt and black pepper to taste
~ Garlic powder to taste (start with just the barest pinch; it's strong!)
~ Basil, either fresh or dried, to taste

This is a cook-everything-then-set-it-out kind of meal, like tacos, where everyone can put their own bowl together. Cook the pasta per package directions; if you are using fresh broccoli you can throw it in for the last 4 minutes of cooking time. (More or less depending on how al dente you like your broccoli; I like mine slightly soft but not mushy.) If you are using the frozen florets follow the package directions. Drain the pasta but do not rinse; it needs to stay warm to melt the butter and cheese. Warm the walnuts, watching them carefully, by putting them into a skillet and cooking them for a few minutes on high heat. Shake the pan several times during cooking and DO NOT let them go too long or they get bitter, bitter, bitter. Remove them from the heat. Set everything out and let each person make their own bowl with the ingredients they choose along with a splash of the reserved pasta water per serving for moisture.

This is quick, easy and yummy; we like it so much better than the original recipe. :)


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