Sunday, January 11, 2015

5 Ingredient Pasta Dinner

Super simple recipe but it illustrates a few things.
  • The use of ready-made ingredients, like a commercial pesto, can elevate some simple things to delicious heights and save you a bunch of time.
  • In a recipe as simple as this, you have room for improvisation. Instead of chicken, use shrimp or a firm fish that will hold together like mahi-mahi. Instead of artichoke hearts, use cubed summer squash, halved cherry tomatoes, or lightly cooked broccoli.
  • Pasta water makes a good thickener for pasta sauces. It helps the sauce stick to the pasta better and stretches out a sauce without thinning it out.
And this whole recipe takes about as long as it takes to boil water and cook pasta.

5* Ingredient Pasta Dinner
(serves 4)

12 oz. chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon oil
¼ cup white wine (or use broth or water)
8 oz. frozen artichoke heart quarters, thawed
1 pound short pasta such as penne or cavatelli
4 Tablespoons pesto (homemade or commercial)

Start heating up a pot of salted water. Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add the oil, then the chicken pieces and sauté. As soon as the water boils, add the pasta and set the timer for 1 minute less than the suggested cooking time (how long depends on the shape). Cook the chicken until browned. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the artichoke hearts, cover, and turn down the heat to low. When the pasta timer goes off, check to see that it is very nearly done. Scoop off a ½ cup of cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta, reserved water, and pesto to the skillet. Stir to cover the pasta with the sauce. Check for salt; add more salt if needed. Serve as soon as it is all hot.

*And, yes, I can count. I'm not counting the salt, pepper, or oil because they are pantry items. If I wanted to really push it, I'd say 4 because there is always white wine in my house. :-)

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