Creamy Caesar pasta with chicken

A delicious, hearty and comforting meal!

My faithful taste tester described this dish as ‘mac and cheese fit for royalty’ which made me chuckle. With its rich, creamy sauce, crunchy croutons and tender morsels of seasoned chicken, it’s delicious, hearty and comforting. To streamline the process, rather than the laborious process of chopping, marinating and cooking chicken, I decided to use some leftover rotisserie chicken to which I added a little marinade and wow was that ever a good choice. This dish works equally well with gluten-free pasta and gluten-free flour as well as non-dairy milk and cheese if those are your preferences.

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon (.5 g) each dried basil and oregano
  • Few pinches salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups (10 oz) cooked chicken, in bite-sized pieces

Croutons

  • 3 cups (105 g) baguette or sourdough bread cubes (about 3/4 inch or 2 cm in size)
  • 3  tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil (I used roasted garlic oil)

Pasta

  • 3 cups (225 g) bowtie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk (regular or non-dairy)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (10 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) anchovy paste or fish sauce
  • Few pinches salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup (45 g) mascarpone or cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (90 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Garnishes

Lemon wedges, additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese and minced parsley

Method

  • In a small jar with a tight lid, shake together the ingredients for chicken marinade. Place the chicken in a bowl and drizzle with the marinade, tossing to coat evenly. Refrigerate until needed.
  • To make croutons, toss bread cubes with oil. Fry them in a large skillet over medium heat or bake in a preheated 400F oven for about 10 minutes, until golden. Place on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta until just al dente (according to package directions). Scoop out and reserve 1 cup (250 mL) of the cooking water then drain pasta and set aside.
  • When pasta is cooked, use the same pot to make the sauce. Add olive oil and butter to the pot, placed over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over top and stir constantly for 2 more minutes, forming a thick roux (paste).
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly whisk in milk, about 1/4 cup (60 mL) at a time. When all milk has been added and the sauce is thick but free of lumps, add lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy paste or fish sauce, salt and pepper. Increase heat to bring sauce to a gentle boil, whisking often, until thickened. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in mascarpone or cream cheese and Parmesan.
  • Return chicken and pasta to pot and stir gently till evenly blended. Let heat for a few minutes, adding reserved pasta cooking water a tablespoon at a time until sauce reaches your desired consistency.
  • Scoop into broad serving bowls and garnish with croutons, parmesan, parsley and a wedge of lemon. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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