A speedy and delicious comfort food meal!
On busy nights, I’m a big fan of easy dishes that don’t require a lot of prep or cooking time, just like this tasty one. Total cooking time is less than 30 minutes and if you chop the chicken and vegetables ahead of time you will be able to just pull things out of the fridge and have dinner on the table with ease. Be sure to choose a skillet that is large enough to hold the chicken, vegetables and cooked pasta and, as I usually recommend, feel free to use gluten-free pasta and/or your favourite non-dairy cream and Parmesan-style cheese. If you like a little citrusy zing, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice makes a nice extra finishing touch.
- 1 pound (454 g ) skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter
- 1 cup (90 g) thinly sliced mushrooms
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 cups (285 g) dried penne pasta
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 pound (225 g) slender asparagus spears
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup (115 g) cream cheese or chèvre, in small pieces
- 1 tablespoon (3.5 g) minced fresh tarragon leaves (or 1 teaspoon/1.1g dried)
- 1/4 cup (22 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- Cut chicken in 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces. Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Sauté until chicken is cooked through and browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a clean bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Add the butter to the same skillet. When melted (over medium-high heat), add mushrooms and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes, until browned. Add shallots and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add to the cooked chicken in the bowl. Do not wipe out skillet as you will be using it again.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water.
- While pasta cooks, trim the woody ends off the asparagus spears and cut them cut on diagonal into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Pour chicken broth into the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add garlic and let cook for 1 minute. Add asparagus pieces then cover and turn off heat; let asparagus steam until just tender (check stems with the tip of a sharp knife), about 4 – 5 minutes. Return chicken mixture to the skillet and place over medium-low heat to re-warm.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving 2/3 cup (160 mL) of the starchy cooking water.
- Add cream cheese, tarragon and hot pasta to the chicken and vegetable mixture in the skillet along with the reserved cooking water. Stir gently to combine evenly and melt cream cheese. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Spoon into four warmed bowls and top with Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.