Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pasta Perfect...

I usually find that you can do wonderful things when you combine pasta, cheese, meat and a vegetable! You can put together a simple yet wonderfully tasty meal in just minutes and leftovers are great for next day's lunch (while other people are wasting gas, time, and money driving out to pick up calorie-packed fast food for lunch, I smile while happily eating remnants of last night's dinner neatly packed in tupperware).

Last night, I was in the mood for something light. Surveying what I had in the fridge, I threw together a delicious meal in minutes.

*You could easily omit the chicken in the recipe for a delicious vegetarian version.

Grilled Chicken & Pasta with Asparagus and Goat Cheese (generously serves 6)

  • 1 lb. pasta (I used penne bc that's what I had, but would be great with spiral pasta)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, + more for grilling chicken
  • 1 lb. of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2" pieces
  • 1 T of lemon zest*
  • 5 oz. of fresh goat cheese
Heat grill to 350 degrees. Brush both sides of chicken breast with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add chicken to hot grill and cook about 6 minutes per side (until you reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees – very important for moist chicken). Remove chicken from grill and tent with foil to keep warm and rest for 10 minutes (chicken will continue to cook after you remove from grill).

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once water reached a rolling boil, add pasta and cook until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until pasta is al dente (tender but firm to bite) approximately 3 minutes longer.

Slice chicken into ¼” slices.

In large serving bowl, combine ½ cup of olive oil with lemon peel and crumble in goat cheese. Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and add to serving bowl. Add reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time until you reach a desired consistency and toss to coat. Add more of the pasta water if pasta is dry.

*The perfect tool for grating lemon zest is the Microplane. Originally used for woodworking, cooks have adopted this tool to use as a perfect citrus zest grater. It is also ideal for grating Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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