Okay, so clearly that’s not penne in the picture. Forgive me. I’m a use-what’s-on-hand kind of girl. Wrong pasta aside, this was a new recipe I made recently when The Neighbors came over for dinner. I’m a big fan of Spinach Artichoke Dip, but know so few people that actually like it as well, that my time with it is minimal. When I saw this recipe from a recent episode of Rachael Ray‘s talk show, and later tasted it, it instantly reminded me of the dip. It seriously tastes like you took the Spinach Artichoke Dip and mixed it in with your favorite pasta.
Nick is generally suspicious when he sees something green on his plate, unless it’s salad, cucumbers or artichokes, all of which he loves. The kids looked at the pasta, and started to eat. He asked me what the green stuff was and I vaguely answered “herbs and things,” which was basically true. I’m not a fan of hiding vegetables. Spinach was definitely front and center in this one, but with the other ingredients, the taste wasn’t strongly oft-putting and the kids did all but lick their plate. Love that.
Creamy, comforting and a perfect quick meal for weeknight craziness. Sometimes that’s all you really need.
Speaking of Rachael Ray, every time she toasts bread on her show, she makes a joke about needing to make twice as much because she always burns it. Judging by the above picture, I’m in good company. Nick is on a toast-for-breakfast kick lately, and I actually burned toast three days in a row. I can make a wicked cocktail, a perfectly caramelized Creme Brulee and an entree or three that are so good they might make you cry. But not toast? Technically, it’s not my fault. For some reason, the toaster oven doesn’t ding and shut off any more when it’s done. And with the whirlwind of activity that takes places in the morning, I’m not sitting right over it, watching it like a hawk the whole time. Given that this is what the toaster oven currently looks like, I’m thinking a new toaster is, unfortunately, in order. But if not for this toaster, I swear I can make toast. Really.
Spinach, Artichoke and Chicken Penne
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray
1 pound penne rigate or whole wheat or whole grain penne rigate
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, 2 small pieces
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup cream or whole milk
A few grates of nutmeg
1 cup grated Asiago or provolone cheese
1 10-ounce box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted, wrung dry and separated
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained well and chopped
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente.
Meanwhile, poach chicken. Place chicken in small pan and add water to top of meat but do not cover completely. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, reduce heat and gently simmer to cook through 10-12 minutes. Shred meat into small pieces with forks or dice into small pieces.
While chicken cooks heat EVOO in large, deep sauté pan over medium heat. Melt butter into oil and add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle flour over cooked onions and garlic and stir 1 minute then whisk in white wine. Add stock and stir 1 minute then stir in cream and season with nutmeg. Thicken sauce a couple of minutes over low heat then stir in spinach and artichokes and heat through, melt Asiago or provolone cheese into sauce and turn off heat.
Drain pasta and toss with sauce and chicken to combine, adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.