A ‘ready in 20 minutes’ meal with fresh, bright flavours!
This has been one of my favourite meals for decades but I lost my recipe card (remember when those were a thing??) and I forgot all about it till a few weeks ago. I recreated it as best as I could remember (and likely improved it a little too) and was happy my family liked it as much as I did, especially the light but creamy milk-based sauce. You can prepare all the ingredients the night before, making it a great ‘throw it together in a hurry’ meal. When I know dinnertime is going to be rushed, I even cook the pasta ahead of time, making sure to drain it when it is just barely ‘al dente’ (tender-firm). When assembling the meal, I reheat the pasta by returning it to a pot of boiling water for 90 seconds before draining it and topping with sauce. If you prefer a vegetarian version, this dish is also great with tofu, or just with the pasta, vegetables and sauce.
- 2 cups (500 mL) dried penne
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil, divided
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces
- 2 cups (500 mL) small broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced sweet onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried oregano
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) flour
- 2 cups (500 mL) milk
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine (optional but delicious)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) minced chives or green onion tops, to garnish
- Heat a large pot of boiling, salted water. When boiling, cook penne to al dente. While water heats and pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
- Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the oil in large fry pan. Sauté chicken over high heat until cooked, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) more oil to pan. Add broccoli and cover pan with a lid. Cook, stirring often, until broccoli is just beginning to soften (you want it still quite crisp), about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside.
- Add remaining oil to pan. Sauté onion and garlic until tender, about 1 – 2 minutes.
- Blend in oregano and flour and stir as it cooks for 2 minutes.
- Gradually stir in milk, about 1/4 cup (60 mL) at a time. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in wine, if using, then stir in cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Return chicken and broccoli to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat until sauce is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
- Drain pasta and divide among 4 serving bowls. Top with sauce and sprinkle with chopped tomato and chives or green onions. Serve hot.