Thursday, October 5, 2017

Broccoli-Cheese-Chicken Pasta

(with vegetarian option)

Photo by@joe foodie via Flickr

Got leftover chicken and looking for a new way to use it up? Try this!

500 gr (16 oz) pasta such as penne, rotini, or farfalle

1 cup broccoli florets, cut small

1 to 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into bite-sized bits (optional)

3 tbsp olive oil
(or half olive oil, half butter)
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
½ cup white wine
1 cup seasoned chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1 to 2 cups shredded white cheese (jack, cheddar, Tussers, etc)
½ cup crumbled gorgonzola or other strongly-flavoured cheese  (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan to top

Set pasta to boil in heavily salted water. When it is done reserve one cup of pasta water, then drain in colander and once thoroughly drained, return to the pot. Add chicken pieces and toss.

Steam or microwave broccoli until just tender. Drain thoroughly, then add to drained pasta and toss.

Peel onion and cut in half through the root; slice each half thinly, creating half-rounds
Peel and mince garlic

While pasta cooks, heat oil in large heavy skillet. Add onions and sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about another minute.

Add wine, reduce heat, cook until liquid is reduced by more than half. Add chicken/vegetable stock and bring to the boil.

Reduce heat and add cream and milk. Simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Add cheese, a handful at a time, and stir in; add more handfuls as the cheese melts. Add the strongly-flavoured cheese, if desired, at the end and stir until melted.

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over pasta and stir in. It sauce is too thick to coat pasta easily, add some of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to loosen up the sauce.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan to top

Serve hot or cold (like a pasta salad).

Monday, January 9, 2017

Minestrone Soup

Fabulous for chilly nights and a frugal way to use up leftovers! Nothing beats a bowl of hot, flavourful soup served with a thick slice of buttered ciabatta. It is so easy to prepare and can be made with or without meat. Any vegetable soup can be turned into minestrone with just a few additions: tomato paste, kidney beans or black beans (canned), pasta (I use small shells) and basil—plenty of basil, fresh or dried. Here is how to make the soup shown in the picture:

Leftover chicken, deboned, skin off, chopped small
            (see below if you have a chicken carcass
              that needs the meat removed)
4 quarts/litres water
8 stalks of celery, cut small
1 onion roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed or pressed
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp thyme (dried)
½ tsp marjoram (dried)
1 tsp Italian seasonings (dried)
1 tsp sweet basil (dried) OR 8 large basil leaves, chiffonade
2 bay leaves

1 cup white wine (red wine for beef or lamb) (optional)
250 g (8 oz) small pasta shells
½ cup carrots, cut small
½ cup baby peas
1 can (400 gr) red kidney beans or black beans
1 can (400 gr) crushed tomatoes
3 to 6 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt to taste

A.   If the chicken is already off the bone, chop it into pieces ½ inch (1.25 cm) or smaller.
1.      Heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, celery, herbs and chicken pieces until onion is translucent
2.      Add water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

B.   If the chicken is not off the bone:
1.      Heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, celery and herbs until onion is translucent
2.      Add chicken and water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken comes off the bone easily. Remove chicken from pot, keep pot simmering.
3.      Cool chicken until you can easily remove meat from bones. Remove meat and chop into pieces ½ inch (1.25 cm) or smaller.
4.      Return meat to the pot

C.   Add wine to the pot and top up with water as needed to have 4 quarts of liquid in the pot. Bring the pot to a full rolling boil and add pasta. Cook until done (see package directions for time needed)

When pasta is done, reduce heat to simmer and add remaining ingredients. Cook until carrots can be easily pierced with a fork.

Vegetarian/Vegan: Follow directions, just omit meat.
Red meat: If using leftover beef or lamb, cut into small pieces removing fat, cartilage and membranes. Follow directions for leftover chicken.

                   If using uncooked lamb or beef, cut into small pieces, removing fat, cartilage and membranes. Heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, celery, herbs and meat until onion is translucent and meat is browned on all sides. Add water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Then follow directions “C.”