The Rising Spoon: Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Fresh Veggies & Pan Fried Chicken

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Fresh Veggies & Pan Fried Chicken

Do you have a favorite recipe you've used for years that's scrawled on a torn sheet of paper or notecard? It's likely creased all over from multiple foldings and splattered with liquid stains from coffee, wine or stock. You pull it out from time to time for reference, but you always switch it up a bit every time based on the ingredients in your pantry.

Well, folks...this is exactly that type of recipe, at least for me. I've been making a variation of this dish since 2010, ever since I hand copied the basic recipe onto the back of one of my English 441 writing assignments. I found this online at Martha Stewart's website, but it's originally from her food magazine, Everyday Food. Sadly, the print version of that magazine no longer exists, but you can still nab the recipes and watch videos online.

Let me tell you, this recipe is super adaptable and oh so luxurious.

Plus... <drum roll>...it's lower fat! Compared to regular cheese (9 grams of fat per ounce), goat cheese has only 6 grams of fat! But don't worry, that doesn't mean less flavor. As per my usual adaptations, I've added in extra veggies, aromatics and spices so it's a more filling and well rounded dish.

This particular time I pan fried a few chicken cutlets for extra protein, but it's wonderful as a vegetarian dish paired with a leafy salad. In fact, this would be a great Meatless Monday recipe to add to your weekly rotation. Especially since it's almost officially Spring and that means asparagus is in season. Yay! Asparagus is one of my all-time favorite vegetables. I can easily eat a bundle all by myself. No exaggeration.

One last thing I'd like to note is the original recipe calls for roasted asparagus. It's certainly delicious this way. Who doesn't like roasted vegetables? It makes everything taste extra special. However, given that the temperatures will soon be rising, you may not want to turn on your oven. In that case, sautéing works just as well. In fact, that's how I normally make it now, unless I'm already using the oven for something else (or it's particularly cold and I want an excuse to turn it on).

Alright...well have at it! And if you make this, do let me know by leaving a comment here, sending me a tweet or posting on my facebook page. I'd love to hear how your version turned out. :)

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Sauteed Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Bell Peppers, Chicken & Artichokes
A creamy, savory and slightly tangy goat cheese pasta dish with sauteed asparagus, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, diced onion and artichoke hearts then topped with seasoned pan fried chicken cutlets. 
Adapted from MarthaStewart.com's Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Asparagus
Serves: 2, with leftovers

Ingredients
8 ounces of rotini noodles (or another curly pasta)
1 tablespoon of cooking oil (I typically use extra virgin olive oil)
2 chicken cutlets (a chicken breast cut in half lengthwise)
Sea salt, cracked black pepper, organic lemon pepper seasoning, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper, to taste (for seasoning chicken)
1/2 a yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced (use organic if possible)
1 bundle of asparagus, woody stems removed then chopped
1 cup of organic, local or heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
Additional sea salt, cracked black pepper, granulated garlic, crushed red pepper and organic lemon pepper seasoning, to taste (for seasoning the sauteed vegetables and/or finished pasta)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons of salted, grass fed butter
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
4 ounces of plain goat cheese
1 cup of pasta water, reserved after cooking noodles (you likely won't use it all)
1/3 cup of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Directions
Cook 8 ounces of dry rotini noodles according to packaged directions, drain and set aside. Heat a large skillet to medium or medium-high and add in the cooking oil. Season both sides of each chicken cutlets to taste (I use a mix of the seasonings mentioned above) and place in the skillet. Cook until no pink is left, flipping halfway through. To speed up the process, you can cover the pan with a lid. Keep in mind that cutlets cook a lot faster than full breasts, so keep an eye on them. 

Peel and dice the onion, peel and mince the garlic, deseeded and chop the bell pepper, slice the tomatoes in half, remove the woody stems from the asparagus and cut each stalk into two or three smaller pieces. 

When the chicken is done, remove and place on a plate or cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Using the same pan (don't clean it) add the diced onion to the pan juices/drippings and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Then add the asparagus, red bell pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the vegetable mixture with the seasonings listed above, to taste. Stir in the juice from 1/2 a lemon, butter, minced garlic and chopped artichokes hearts. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the butter's all melted, then turn off the heat. 

In a bowl, mix the goat cheese with 1/4-1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water until the goat cheese softens and forms a sauce. If you want the sauce thinner, add more pasta water, but start with a small amount and increase slowly. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with the goat cheese sauce. Mix everything thoroughly and add more pasta water if necessary. Sprinkle the pasta with shredded mozzarella and top with the cooked chicken. Serve immediately. 

Notes & Tips
If you're making a vegetarian version, simply skip the chicken step (obviously) and add the diced onion to the cooking oil. 

I don't usually measure seasonings for my homemade pastas and just rely on tasting. Many people have different tolerance levels for aromatics and hot spice, so however much works for you.

Real Food Resources

Real Food Survival Guide For Busy Moms

"This e-book is perfect for busy folks who need help maximizing their time in the kitchen so they can fix nutritious, real food snacks and meals to eat at home and on the go. In addition to realistic advice, this book provides recipes for real food staples you can make in bulk ahead of time, which ensures you always have nutrient dense foods at hand. And it’s especially helpful if you’re interested in implementing homemade fermented foods into your diet."

From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Traditionally Prepared Whole-Food Dishes 

"If you're looking for a cookbook that is as entertaining as it is delicious, then look no further. From Scratch is a breath of fresh air when it comes to learning how to traditionally prepare and cook nutritious food. Shaye does not disappoint in her recipes and this cookbook reads like a letter from a close friend. These meals are easily prepared and yes, easily devoured."

Question for Discussion: What's your favorite handwritten recipe that is a staple in your home?

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