There are two words that will always make my heart flutter: ITALIAN and HEALTHY. I recently discovered this great food site called Julia’s Healthy Italian and was immediately inspired to try out one of her recipes. The thing I liked most about her recipes is that they were so simple. I don’t mean any disrespect to simplicity here, because simple can be a very beautiful thing. And in this case, this recipe was just that — beautifully simple.
What really makes this dish stellar is the fresh pasta. Now folks, I have never owned a pasta machine in my life and to be frank, I don’t know if I ever will own one. We made this pasta by using good ol’ fashioned elbow grease. It didn’t take long to prepare and the fresh pasta turned out even better than we had hoped! Thin and chewy in all of the right places. Yummy.
Because the pasta does not take long to cook, I had Mister prep the noodles while I started the chicken side of things. If I were cooking this dish alone, I would still prepare the noodles first, just in case my dough needed to rest at all. I recommend tossing your fresh pasta into a pot of salted, boiling water as soon as you turn your chicken over.
3 beefsteak tomatoes, chunked or one 28-ounce can plum tomatoes cut in half, juice discarded
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 cup dry white or Marsala cooking wine
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (if you like a little heat)
For the pasta:
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
water, as needed
For the pasta:
Blend together flour, eggs and salt. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together but is not sticky. Check after each tablespoon to see if dough has firmed. I used about 5 or 6 tablespoons. You'll need more if your flour is older.
Roll dough as thin as you can with a rolling pin. If dough starts to spring back when rolled, let the dough rest for ten minutes and try again.
Roll the flat sheet of dough into a jelly roll. Using a very sharp knife, trim the edges and slice the roll into small rounds (as wide as you want your noodles to be). Unroll the rounds into long noodles and toss them with flour on a baking sheet to dry or cook immediately. Fresh noodles will take about 4 minutes to cook. They are done when they float to the top of the water. Makes two medium-sized portions of pasta.
For the chicken:
In a large pan, sauté the onions in oil on medium for about 8 minutes or until the onions are clear and sweated. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the chicken breast and mix well. Place chicken on top of the tomato mix.
Cook with cover on for 10 minutes or so, until the chicken gets fully white on top. Turn chicken over and cook another 5 minutes.
Place a slice of chicken on each plate and top with tomato mixture and juice. Serve with fresh pasta and enjoy.
Toss your cooked pasta with fresh pesto for some major flavor butt-kicking.
The other day at the farmer’s market in Denver I picked up these beautiful cherry tomatoes (among other finds). Inspired by all the market’s fresh ingredients, I decided to make a Farmer’s Market Pasta Salad using their tomatoes and peppers.
This pasta salad turned out great. It was light and satisfying, perfect for the summer. Plus this recipe makes enough to share with a large group. I brought a big bowl of this pasta salad to a big BBQ for the 4th of July.
If you can manage, try making this day before your big event. I noticed that the flavors melded better as time went on.
1 cup organic Italian Dressing (Tuscan is my favorite to use)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1/2 diced yellow bell pepper
1/4 to 1/2 diced red onion (according to your tastes)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the dressing, mayonnaise and sugar.
Drain the pasta well, transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool. Add the tomatoes, peppers, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, salt, to taste, and the black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add parmesan cheese to top and serve.
Comfort Food is one of my biggest weaknesses (and equally strongest passion). Chicken and dumplings, Shepherd’s pie and (of course) macaroni and cheese. If the food takes me down memory lane and back to my youth, I’m a fan.
I am constantly updating this recipe. Every time I make this dish, it turns out a little different each time. I throw in whatever ingredients I find laying about my kitchen (and surrounding areas). It makes life a little more interesting maybe, but doesn’t make for a solid recipe. Keep that in mind as you follow this thing. I call this the “Mac and Cheese and the Kitchen Sink” recipe for that reason.
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (penne is mighty tasty too)
extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup monterey jack, shredded
8 ounces processed cheese food
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs or crushed croutons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta to al dente. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and extra-virgin olive oil to keep from sticking.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes (the butter should be frothy and free of lumps). Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer on low for ten minutes (until yellow in color) and remove bay leaf.
Temper in the egg by taking some of your butter sauce mixture and adding it to the beaten egg first to regulate the temperature (dumping the egg straight into the sauce results in what is essentially scrambled eggs). Stir in all of your cheese, reserving a bit to sprinkle over the top.
Fold the noodles into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Melt the remaining butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the noodle mixture with the bread crumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.