Saturday, January 17, 2009

Night-before-a-long-run Pasta

This is the sort of thing that I whip up frequently as a desperation dinner. It's a whatever's-in-the-fridge sort of a dish that comes out differently each time. So I am going to give you the basic principles and let you create your own masterpiece.
First, you ask your sous chef to get out everything that she can reach. This is very helpful when you are walking back and forth between the stove and the fridge and makes for some really fun times.
Next, get a batch of Lemon Rosemary Chicken going on the grill. Or if it's not a grilling sort of a day, and you plan ahead, grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred the meat from it.
Get a large pot of salted water boiling and dump in half a box of penne pasta. I cannot say enough good about this particular kind of pasta, Barilla Plus. The nutritional profile is definitely superior to plain jane pasta, and it's much more palatable than the straight up whole wheat stuff. My kids don't even notice the difference and I feel all victorious for getting a bit more protein, fiber and Omega 3s in them.
Now it's time to open your fridge and see what your options are for veggies. Pick three cups of a variety. I like broccoli, frozen peas, zucchini, red peppers (either fresh or roasted), roma tomatoes (fresh or roasted), shallots, fresh garlic, and mushrooms (though not necessarily all at once). Divide them into two categories - the kind you should boil/steam like peas and broccoli - and the kind you should saute, like peppers, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes. Heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet when the pasta is about half cooked and toss all of the saute vegetables in there with the exception of tomatoes, which will be stirred in right before serving. Throw your broccoli and/or peas into the pasta pot and let them simmer along with the noodles.
Saute your veggies over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are to the desired doneness and then turn the heat down to medium low. I like them tender but not mushy. Grind a bit of kosher salt and pepper over them, and then add in 1/4 cup of real bacon bits at the very end. Everything is better with bacon. I buy a large bag at Sam's and keep it in the freezer so I can add a bit to recipes without the mess and hassle of cooking regular strips.
Drain the pasta and veggies, then dump them into the skillet. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips, and dump them into the skillet as well. If you're adding tomatoes, now's the time to put them into the mix. Drizzle 3-4 T. olive oil over it all and toss gently until everything is lightly coated. Sprinkle a generous 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese over everything. Put a lid over the skillet for a minute until the cheese gets melty and gooey, then serve immediately. This is excellent for leftovers and is very flexible. I can get my kids to eat veggies because I point out that it's got noodles, cheese and bacon in it.


michelleyv said...

This pasta dish might be just enough to make me excited about a long run--and that's saying something these days.

Nurse Heidi said...

Wanna join me on Saturday for 12? I'm working my way back up. I've done a few 10s and now it's time to really start piling the miles on.

imajacobs said...

I use that Barilla Plus and love it! It is great stuff! And your recipe sounds fantastic.