Rigatoni alla Isabella

by Cate on November 16, 2007

I’m actually pretty proud of myself for tonight’s dinner offering. A brand new recipe, from a cookbook I haven’t used before, using ingredients I already had on hand … all decided at the last minute. Barring all that, it produced a keeper. My kind of evening!

At 5:40 pm, I decided it was time to stop work and decide on what to make for dinner. I had no idea what to make, and had nothing planned, but was leaning towards a pasta dish of sorts, having to make do with what I had on hand. Besides the fact that it was a disgustingly chilly, wet and windy day today that demotivated any trip to the grocery store, it was too late to be running out to buy ingredients for a dish I hadn’t even thought of yet. Just one of those days where time escaped me.

Near my desk is a bookshelf filled with some of my cookbooks. Knowing I had pasta on the mind, I scanned the shelves for an Italian one, landing on The Arthur Avenue Cookbook. Although I have yet to use this cookbook (I know, sad, isn’t it?), I love looking at the pictures … shot around New York’s Little Italy, they feature butcher shops, fresh loaves of bread, salty prosciutto, bakers, butchers, Italian guys sitting around shooting the breeze and more. Love it.

A quick scan through the index led me to their recipe for Rigatoni Alla Isabella. As you can see, I ended up using spaghetti (whole wheat, thank you very much), because Nicholas nixed the idea of “fat pasta.” I’m a very new convert to whole wheat pastas, and love it … I challenge anyone to tell the difference between that and traditional pasta.

With its very short list of ingredients, I was happy to discover I had nearly everything on hand already. The only thing I was missing was the zucchini, but I happened to have a fresh bunch of asparagus in the fridge, which made a perfect substitute. Of course, it’s not like the boys would touch the green vegetables anyway, so a substitute didn’t especially matter, but the pasta was definitely a big hit with all. Light on seasonings, it made for a delicately flavored, just right dish that can be on your dinner table in under 30 minutes. Rachael Ray would be proud. Bon Appetit!

A year ago today… Thanksgiving preparations begin.
Two years ago today… hard to believe we were arriving in Bermuda two years ago today!

Rigatoni Alla Isabella
Recipe courtesy of The Arthur Avenue Cookbook

1 pound rigatoni
4 chicken breasts (I used chicken tenderloins for faster cooking)
1 tablespoon diced garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 zucchini, trimmed and sliced thinly, lengthwise (I used roasted asparagus)
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I used six)

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the grill or a grill pan on the stove top over medium-high heat. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Drain the pasta. Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the chicken, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper. Toss to coat the chicken well. Grill the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the grill, place on a sheet pan, and bake it in oven for 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the zucchini slices in 1 tablespoon olive oil, add salt and pepper and place them on the grill, about 1 minute each side, until well marked. Remove the chicken from the oven, allow it to cool, and cut it into 1-inch-long strips. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the cream. Summer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the pasta, chicken and zucchini, and stir until heated through. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Cate’s Note: I changed up the method a little bit to make it easier. First, I cooked the chicken completely in the grill pan, skipping the baking in the oven part. When the chicken was half-way done, that’s when I put the pasta water on. I roasted asparagus in the oven, skipping all the zucchini steps, and just added it in at the end.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

odd facts November 16, 2007 at 3:00 am

I am soo hungry now.


Anonymous November 16, 2007 at 3:56 am

That looks great. I have everything on hand, so its tomorrows dinner. I’m curious what brand whole wheat pasta do yo use. If it tastes just like regular pasta, yeah!



Cate November 16, 2007 at 4:03 am

Odd facts – visiting food blogs at night is very dangerous business. :)

Anon – Barilla. Trust me, if Nicholas and The Husband eat it without a word, you can’t tell the difference. :) Hope you like it!


mdvelazquez November 16, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Yum! I like Barilla’s whole wheat pasta too. I can’t wait to try this one.


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