Monday, June 20, 2011

Pasta California

Inspired by our vacation in Napa Valley, California - my family asked me to make a dinner to celebrate. (Bear in mind this was intended for a collection of five picky palates.) I am happy to say I came up with a real sunshine-inspired crowd pleaser! Granted...I ended up with a triple serving of veggies in mine after my younger brothers modified their plates. ;)

Pasta California - feeds 5-6

- 1 lb Rigatoni, or other short pasta with space to catch the sauce
- 2 cups chopped Chicken
- 2 cups chopped Broccoli
- 1 cup chopped Red Bell Pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped Onion (yellow)
- 1/2 chopped/sliced Mushrooms
- 2-3 cloves diced Garlic
- 1 jar Classico Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo

Boil the pasta until al dente. 
Meanwhile - in a saucepan over med-hi heat, put 2-3 tablespoons of good olive oil, and add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic right away.* Let these simmer until the onions are golden translucent and very soft, stirring and adding a few tablespoons of water periodically.
Next, add your chopped chicken and saute until almost cooked through. 
Add the broccoli and cook until the chicken is done and broccoli is the consistency you prefer. 
Add the bell pepper last so it maintains its crunch, which adds nice depth of texture to the dish.
Fold in with the drained rigatoni and jar of sauce. Let sit for at least 5 minutes on low heat, stirring regularly, to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve with warm bread, herbed olive oil for dipping, and a salad! We chose caprese salad in lieu of lettuce - sliced red tomatoes, topped with sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, and sprinkled with basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil. 

Happy Eating!

*Note - Olive oil is my very favorite and I use it for everything. However - it is important to remember that it does not tolerate high heat very well. So if you are using virgin or extra virgin to saute foods on high heat, you must heat the pan first, then add the oil and foods together. This way, the oil isn't allowed to burn in the pan. Olive oil should never be allowed to smoke in the pan by itself.

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