Before we get to the food, and we shall, I have some exciting news!
I want to thank everyone who nominated me. You have no idea what a surprise this was and how much I appreciate it! Ok, back to the food.
This time of year is, for me, perfect for hearty pasta dishes. For some reason in the Summer I don’t really crave pasta, except for mac and cheese which is a year-round craving, but once the temperatures begin to drop I crave pasta.
So, I started with a healthy recipe from Cooking Light. I have made it before and enjoyed it very much, but this time I tweaked it.
Tweak one was to add some roasted chicken. I used chicken breast because that is what I had, but you could also make it with chicken thighs if that rocks your world.
Tweak two was to use whole milk and full fat cream cheese in the sauce. Sure, you can use low fat, or even fat free, if you want to save a few calories, but I wanted smooth and creamy sauce coating my pasta. I went for whole milk.
Tweak three, and by far the most flavorful tweak, was the addition of onion and mushroom to the sauce. These added a nice robust flavor to the creamy sauce. Sure, you could leave them out but when you can add so much flavor so easily, why wouldn’t you?
Serve this pasta with a green salad and you have an easy, filling, and very tasty dinner!
Creamy Parmesan, Mushroom and Chicken Pasta Serves 4
Adapted from Cooking Light
For the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the pasta:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used button, but crimini or shitaki would also be nice)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons cream cheese at room temperature
6 ounces fresh grated parmesan cheese
8 ounces rigatoni pasta
Heat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl combine the oregano, salt, paprika, red pepper, thyme, and olive oil. Stir well. Put the chicken breasts on the prepared sheet pan and brush the mixture onto both sides.
Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 160 F. Once cooked remove from the oven and tent with foil until ready to slice.
Boil the pasta according to the package directions.
While the pasta cooks heat the two teaspoons of olive oil in a heavy bottom pot. Saute the mushrooms and onion over medium heat until soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for thirty seconds.
Add in the flour and stir to moisten, then pour in the milk and whisk to combine. Cook the mixture until it thickens, about ten minutes. Once it has thickened season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the cream cheese until incorporated. Add the parmesan and whisk until it is incorporated.
Toss in the cooked pasta and mix gently to coat. Slice the chicken breast and toss into the pasta.
Serve warm, with a salad or garlic bread.