Archive for January, 2010

Chicken & Asparagus Penne

The maiden voyage.  In my attempt to expand my horizons week by week, I give you my first new recipe of the year (check out the About page to learn more).  Chicken & Asparagus Penne.  Not bad, not bad.   To start with, you can view the original recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com HERE.

OK, here’s the short story.  If you’ve reviewed the original recipe, you’ll notice that it calls for 1 tsp of crushed red pepper.  This is WAY too much!!!  The flavors of the dish were over-powered by the kick of the pepper… and I like kick, just not that much.  So next time, 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp red pepper.  Also, in reading through the reviewers comments, I agreed that the dish sounded bland in its original form.  I therefore took the liberty of mixing some suggestions together that I thought would add some good flavor.  Below is my version of Chicken & Asparagus Penne:

  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 12 oz asparagus (or one bunch) – cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 pkg dry whole wheat penne
  • 4 cloves garlic – quartered
  • 3/4 c Italian cheese blend (or more if you like cheese… which I do!)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 4 tbs cream
  • 4 roma tomatoes – seeded and chopped
  • chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • shake of cooking white wine or sherry

Seasonings (measured by a couple shakes here and there… I always say be generous with your shakes!  Seasonings are our friends):

  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  1. Chop chicken into thin, bite size pieces.  Marinate with onion powder, garlic powder, thyme basil and white wine/sherry.
  2. Boil water and salt in a large pot.  Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 9-10 min or until al dente.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Saute chicken in 1 tbs olive oil in a large skillet until firm and lightly browned; remove from pan.  Add remaining 1 tbs of oil.  Saute garlic, asparagus, red pepper and mushrooms until asparagus is tender.  Be careful not to over cook the asparagus!
  4. Stir in chicken.  Add pasta, butter and cream.  Add cheese.  Toss until mixed and cheese is melted.
  5. Toss in tomatoes – just long enough to warm.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Tips I Learned Along the Way:

  1. Cut the chicken really thin, not chunky.  The thin strips will cook super fast and it cuts done on the total time spent making dinner.  If you let the chicken marinate, the flavor gets into the meat before cooking.
  2. Add the tomatoes at the VERY end… they get mushy if you put them in too soon.
  3. You’re suppose to remove the garlic cloves before serving, but I couldn’t find them… next time I’ll just mince them.

Recipe High Points:

  1. It only took me about 30-40 minutes from start (taking things out of the refrigerator) to finish (serving it up onto plates) to prepare this meal.  In my world, that’s pretty fast!
  2. Besides being overpowered by the red pepper, Jeff and I really liked this dish.  It had a light, spring flavor to it that made you feel good about eating it.
  3. We had at least three servings of left overs!

Recipe Low Points:

  1. The added butter and cream probably took away from the healthy aspect of this dish.
  2. One reviewer had said the cream and butter would help give the cheese a creamy consistency.  I didn’t necessary find this to be true.  Perhaps I was looking for more of an Alfredo type consistency, which didn’t happen.  Because of this expectation, I was frustrated by the consistency of the melted cheese, cream and butter.
  3. As mentioned above… too much red pepper!

All in all, I’d give this recipe 4 stars.  I thought it had great potential and am looking forward to trying it again soon!  I’ll let you know how round two turns out!

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