Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicken, Broccoli, and Tomato Pasta

I made my first "skillet meal" a couple of months ago, and I was instantly hooked. It doesn't sound cool and it's certainly not fancy or showy, but it's a perfect meal when you don't have a ton of time. It's basically well-rounded, it's filling, and it usually involves pasta. And we all know how I feel about pasta!

The first skillet meal recipe I made came from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. And I have made several since. They have all been utterly delicious. If you haven't been over to Mel's, you should check it out. She posts a lot of recipes and has a similar cooking style to me. Plus, she just revamped her website and it's a lot easier to search.

Last night, I had no idea what to make for dinner. I didn't have much in the refrigerator...a couple bunches of broccoli, some carrots...and a tomato that really needed to be eaten. I left the carrots alone because I found this recipe on Mel's and ended my recipe search immediately.
It was a good thing, too, because it was pretty delicious. I made some changes based on what I had in the refrigerator; I used one cup of half-and-half instead of cream, I added a fresh roma tomato and used fewer sundried tomatoes because I didn't have enough. But it was good. I'll be making this again!

Chicken, Broccoli, and Tomato Pasta
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Printable Recipe

2-3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces.
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon Provencal herbs (or Italian herbs, or your favorite herb)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
4 cups water, divided
2 cups chicken broth
12 ounces dry pasta, such as bowtie, penne, corkscrew, etc.
3-4 cups broccoli, cut into pieces
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
1 roma tomato, chopped
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzled with 1-2 tablespoons of oil. When the pan is hot, add the chicken, and salt and pepper the chicken to taste. Stir-fry the chicken until it's no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Remove to a clean bowl and set aside.

To the same pan, add another tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the herbs, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds, then add 3 cups of water, the broth, and the pasta. Turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Boil for 12-15 minutes, until a lot of the liquid has evaporated. Be careful, though, that the pasta does not overcook. It should still be firm.

Once the liquid has mostly evaporated, add the rest of the water, the broccoli, and the sundried tomatoes. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green and beginning to become tender.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch into the half and half. Add the half and half, parmesan, chopped tomato, and reserved chicken to the pan and return to medium-high. Stir and cook until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

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