Saturday, April 21, 2007

Poor Man's Pasta

This very versatile dish can be personalized to your likes and dislikes. My brother in law introduced us to it and told us that he and his room mates (food saavy folks, all of them) would pull out whatever they had in their pantry or fridge and throw it together -- hence the name "poor man's pasta." We have tweaked it enough that it isn't truly a poor man's dish anymore, but oh boy is it ever good!

1 large onion sliced or diced (your preference)
a couple of large chicken breasts
1 box of pasta (your choice - colored fusili) cooked
5-7 fresh mushrooms sliced
1 can artichoke hearts drained and quartered
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained and julienned
1 can of olives (I use a whole can of whole olives and slice them. You could also of course just use two cans of sliced)
broccolli or roasted asparagus
salt to taste
Drizzling of EV Olive Oil
sprinkle of basil

Bring water to boil and cook your pasta. In hot skillet saute onions and chicken (salt to taste) in extra virgin olive oil until cooked through. Meanwhile steam your broccolli or roast your asparagus (instructions below.) When chicken is a couple minutes away from completion, add your sliced mushrooms. When the chicken/onions/mushrooms are fully cooked, add all other canned ingredients to heat and add a sprinkling of fresh or a few small shakes of dried basil.

Once heated through, in large serving bowl stir in your chicken mixture, your pasta and add in your broccolli. (p.s. you do NOT want to overcook your broccolli for this dish. It would not taste right at all. It ought to be bright green as opposed to a very sad looking dark green.) Stir well to mix. If you are doing asparagus with it you can either serve it on the side, whole or you can cut them into small pieces and mix them in. Over all of it drizzle a Tablespoon or two more of EV olive oil, salt it to taste. You can garnish it with a bit of mozarella or parmesan.

This one is a crowd pleaser. We always make extras because everyone wants seconds, even the kids (who can pick out the goodies that they dislike and hand them all over to a parent who can truly appreciate them!) It also makes wonderful leftovers. It can even be eaten cold as a pasta salad the next day for lunch and it is still simply delicious! Play with it. Add some stuff that you love. Take out some stuff that you hate. It's pretty hard to really mess this up.

VARIATION: You can also grill the chicken rather than pan cooking it, just pan cooking the onions/mushrooms, etc. alone.

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