Saturday, May 08, 2010

Cooking With Kada!

(Double posted at Kada Noms, my food photo blog.)

One of my favourite pasta dishes I learned to cook as a chef is Penne Pasticciate: chicken, mushrooms, avocado, pesto, cream, and a dash of Napoli sauce. When I was in the midst of hard core calorie counting, there was no way I would ever make that dish or Quattro Formaggi. So, I figured out a way make it lower fat. I used fat free cream cheese and fat free evaporated milk in place of the cream, and added a couple of finely chopped sundried tomatoes on a whim when we had no pesto.

Over the years, once I switched to intuitive eating and stopped counting calories, I've slowly perfected the balance of flavours. It no longer resembles a pasticciate but instead has come to be its own dish. Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Pasta. It's become our Go To dish when we want some lusciously rich and creamy pasta rather than a tomato-based sauce. It also doesn't leave the lingering fatty aftertaste I find I get these days from cream-based sauces.

Figuring some of you out there might like to try it, I finally took the time to measure out the ingredients, rather then going by eye.

And, here's the recipe.
(Serves three-six, depending on your appetite and if you eat it by itself or have sides with it.)

1 organic* chicken breast, diced small
half a pound of mushrooms**, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3-5 garlic cloves, sliced, chopped, crushed, however you like it.
sundried tomatoes in oil and herbs, approx 10-15 halves, chopped (about 1/3C chopped)
1 tub chive and onion cream cheese
1 can fat free evaporated milk
1 avocado, chopped
Whatever shape pasta you like to eat, cooked to your preference. (Although, angel hair and small macaroni tend to get lost in the sauce, and pappardelle and gnocchi are too rich, plus have the wrong mouth feel.) We've successfully used farfarlle, penne, spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, radiatori, spirelli, gemmeli and many more.

*Often when using Tyson's/Foster Farms/non-organic I'd have to use 1.5-2 breasts because they pump them that full of broth there's not enough meat when the liquid all cooks out.
**baby portabellas in this case, regular buttons will do.
(LOL The garlic WAS resting on the can, but fell down between it and the mushroom container.)

Step 1: melt 1Tbs olive oil and 2tsp butter in a frying pan/skillet. Add mushrooms and onion and cook until onion starts to go translucent and mushrooms are half cooked...only just starting to go brown.

Step 2: Add the chicken, tomatoes and garlic. Cook until chicken is half cooked..still a little pink in some spots.

Step 3: Throw in the evaporated milk and cream cheese, then stir to combine. Have to get in there and smoosh up the cream cheese really good with your spoon. One it starts to bubble, turn to low heat. The milk can stick on the bottom and burn, if the flame's too high.

Step 4: You're ready to add the avocado when the sauce is halfway to coating consistency. i.e. It hangs on the spoon a bit but still mostly drips off.

Then plop in those delish green morsels. Like olives, avocados get added towards the end, we only want to heat them through, else they go bitter.

Step 5: When the sauce gets to coating consistency it's time to add the pasta.

Step 6: It may or may not need another minute or two to really get the sauce coating the pasta. Once it gets to the point when stirring it around parts the waves, so to speak, it's done.

Step 7: Use a pair of tongs to pull out the pasta and put it in pasta bowls or on plates, then divide the remaining meat/veg/sauce between them. (Little restaurant secret for dishing up good looking piles of pasta.)

Buon Appetito!

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