Saturday, June 17, 2017

Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Once the chicken is grilled, this dish takes about half hour or less to pull together. I have my husband grill the chicken while I make the rest of the dish. He cuts it up once it has rested and cooled, which means this meal can be on the table from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Serve with a fresh garden salad and you have a completely gourmet meal to eat during the week or serve to guests (and, of course, pass the wine!)

1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 tsp. Sunny Spain (Penzey's) OR
1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp each of dried lemon peel, garlic powder and onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces
12 oz penne pasta,
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
Reserve 1 cup pasta water
1/3 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for serving)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not in oil)

Heat grill.
If not using Sunny Spain seasoning, mix together the black pepper, dried lemon peel, garlic powder and onion powder in a small bowl.  Cover chicken with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning (heavy) on both sides of the chicken. Grill chicken about 10-12 minutes or until cooked over medium high heat. Remove from grill and place on a plate to rest.

Cook pasta to al dente. During the last 2 minutes, add asparagus to boiling pasta. Before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water and reserve for later. Drain pasta and asparagus and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook a minute. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Slowly pour in the milk and half and half, whisking until flour is smooth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.

Once sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to medium low.  Add cream cheese and stir until it is completely incorporated into the sauce. Stir in Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes.

Slowly add the pasta and asparagus, stirring until they are completely coated with the sauce. Add pasta water to pan to make it smooth and keep from being too thick. This could be up to 1 cup, although I used only about 3/4 of a cup, so add slowly and stir.

Cut chicken into strips. Place pasta mixture into a large serving dish, taking care to scrape all of the sauce over the pasta. Place cut chicken on top and top with additional Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: For added flavor, you can crumble 5-6 pieces of crispy bacon on top and about 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, cut into thin strips.

NOTE: You can substitute broccoli for the aspargus -- use about 3 cups of broccoli florets. You can also add mushrooms or substitute sun-dried tomatoes for mushrooms. Be sure to saute the mushrooms ahead of time.

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