Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quick Parmesan Pasta with Chicken

Sometimes, you throw together something from leftovers and have few expectations from it. When I made this dish, I was just hoping for edible. What I ended up with something I call Parmesan Pasta with Chicken, and it's really good—my husband had some critiques (we need to add a little spice)—but he had seconds. So did I, as well as one of the twins. The other twin had 4 helpings and I finally cut her off. The four-year-old wouldn’t touch it at first, but after some coaxing decided it was ok—I think since it looked different she decided she didn’t like it. My husband asked that I make it again—extremely high praise for a reworking of leftovers, I would say!

Quick Parmesan Pasta with Chicken

The star ingredient: low or non-fat evaporated milk. If you are craving something creamy, but don’t want so much fat, this is the way to go!

12 oz very small pasta—also called pastina—I used stelline, but orzo would work too
1 cup of small chopped vegetables—I used carrots
1 can lowfat or non-fat evaporated milk
2 cups cooked shredded chicken (I used leftover sticky chicken)
2 oz sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped and drained drained + 1 tablespoon of oil
1 cup shredded parmesan (or other cheese of choice)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put on a medium pot of water to boil. While water is heating to boil, heat the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes over medium high heat in a medium pot or skillet. Saute vegetables in oil until crisp-tender.

Lower heat of vegetables to medium-low. Add pasta to boiling water in the other pot and cook until done according to directions on the box. Add milk and chicken to vegetables. Simmer (do not boil) until thickened slightly. Add sun-dried tomatoes, stir to combine.

Turn off heat. Add drained pasta and cheese. Stir to combine. Because of the small size of the pasta, it has more surface area to stick to the sauce, so don’t panic that your sauce looks runny before the pasta and cheese is added. It should thicken up quickly.

My husband suggested that for grown-up tastes, it could use a little more spice. I would add either some ground mustard or maybe some paprika. If you combined everything in an oven-safe skillet, you could toss some breadcrumbs on top and brown it under the broiler for a couple of minutes, too.

Just a heads up: if you are using larger pasta, you will probably have to cook your sauce down for longer or add a thickener.

Like I said, this was a big hit at my house—a pretty good use of leftover chicken. I think this meal took less than 15 minutes from start to finish—no more than 20 minutes! Enjoy!


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