Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes

4 Jan

I love to create!  Most recipes I enjoy are the ones I end up just put together with what I have in the kitchen.  Sometimes they come out good and other times you learn how you can make a better combination.  Cooking is not just about recipes, it is also about the adventure of how you get there.  My grandmother was the queen of that.  She could come into your kitchen, look at your pantry, then go to your fridge, and create a magical meal.  You may have thought you had nothing of good use, but she could make something out of nothing.   On the last evening of 2009 we had plans of stopping by two parties.  Since we had been traveling for about two weeks the possibilities were limited.  I had roasted chicken breasts leftover from the night before.  I had picked up a rotisserie chicken from Publix.  I usually like to roast my own chicken, but in a pinch their prepared chicken is delicious.  I peered into my desolate fridge and the juices started to flow.  Have no fear, where there is a hungry stomach, there is a will to feed it.

I managed to put together a yummy pasta dish with shredded chicken breasts, sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese.  My favorite dishes are ones with few and simple ingredients.  I can now add this one to the list.

My mother-in-law (AKA Santa) gave us a basket of foodie goodies.  One of the items in the basket was this dainty pasta that reminds me of a tulip.

Can you see the similarity? Or am I just off my rocker?  Either way I think they are pretty.

And so colorful!  They will be a nice addition to the dish.  Go ahead and place a pot of water on the stove for the pasta.  Make sure to add a good amount of salt to the water.  I never measure how much salt I put in the water, but it is probably about 2 – 3 tablespoons.  I am guessing so don’t hold me to it.  Let’s just say it is a generous amount.  While you are waiting for the water to boil you can start your prep.  This is such an easy recipe you will want to make it once a week.

I was feeling garlicky.  So I grabbed three large cloves and one shallot.  I know, I know, it is New Year’s Eve night and I was headed out to two parties.  I had no business eating so much garlic, but  just knew this would be the right amount of garlic.  I could smell it.

And then a little miracle happened.  A garlic birth right in my kitchen.  One of my so thought large cloves, was actually a total of 5 cloves.  This little miracle made me giddy.  You could say I have a little obsession with garlic.  But it is a healthy one.  My mom mentioned to me that I used to eat raw garlic as a child when she would cook our meals.  As earl as the age of 3.  I know, I was ahead of my time.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled recipe for a quick tutorial on slicing a shallot.

The easiest way to dice a shallot and get your dices even is the crosswise slice method.  Please note – this is not an official term for this technique, I just make up my own vocabulary sometimes.  I encourage you to make up your own vocabulary, have fun with it. And tell me about it.

Keep the bottom (the root) of the shallot on after you peel it.  Slice your shallot horizontally about 2 – 3 times (depending on the size of your shallot) without going all the way to the end, keeping the root intact.  The number of slices will also determine the size of your dice.  More slices, smaller dice.  This is really more relevant in onions since they are larger.

Now slice your shallot vertically about 3-4 times.  See the little sticks that have formed?  We are on to something now.

As you move your knife down on the shallot you are producing diced shallot.  Getting your dice as even size as you can will ensure even cooking.  You don’t want small pieces to burn as they wait for the large pieces to cook.  Well – do you?  I didn’t think so.

Now back to the regulary scheduled recipe.

So far, you should have your leftover shredded roasted chicken breasts, diced garlic and shallots.  I also had sun dried tomatoes (Yum) in the fridge.  There was not much left but it was all I needed.  If I would have measured it, I would say it was around a 1/4 cup.  The tomatoes were already  julienned, and I chopped them up a bit.  I wanted to have little sprinkles of tomatoes in my dish instead of strings.  You can leave them out if you don’t like them.  This is one of those recipes you could substitute out the tomatoes, or even the chicken, for just about anything or even introduce more items to the mix.  Whatever you like.

I love this stuff.  This is Herbs de Provence.  I know – sounds very fancy. This herb mixture consists of fennel, savory, thyme, basil and lavender.  Look at how the pretty purple lavender accents the mixture like a painting.

Stop and smell the magic.  Once you add the herb mixture to your garlic and shallots your kitchen will start smelling like a french countryside. Let everything sizzle together for a minute, or three, before you add the next ingredient.  I feel that it is important to allow your aromatics or spices, whatever you happen to be using, to sizzle for a bit before you start adding remaining ingredients.  When you start adding each ingredient, let each ingredient sizzle with the rest of the ingredients before making other additions.  This will allow the ingredients to have their personal time before you introduce another ingredient to the mix.  Trust me the final dish will thank you for it.

Add your chicken to the mix, once the ingredients are acquainted, add the sun dried tomatoes.

Don’t be afraid to add some of the oil and juices of the tomatoes.  It is just more yumminess (another word from my vocabulary).

At some point during this process your water will start to boil.  Add your pasta to the water, only when you have a nice rigorous boil going on in the pot.  A wise old Italian woman told me once, “do not add the pasta until you water is boiling, not simmering, or a little boiling, but really boiling”.  I listened.  You don’t ever really want to go against the advice of a wise old Italian woman.  She also told me there is no need for oil in the water.  In addition to the salt I used to add a drizzle of olive oil in the water.  When I told her about the oil she looked at me like I had three heads.  “Oil? for what?  No – do not add oil to your water”.  Said the wise old Italian woman.
Why is this important for me to tell you?  I just want you to have the best pasta.  Do not use any oil in the water, this will just give you a slick oily film on the pasta.  If you wait until the water is really boiling, then the hot water will help keep the skin of the pasta together to prevent mushy pasta.  As soon as you drop the pasta in the water, stir it around to prevent from sticking.

Now we are gonna get a little saucy.  Your ingredients should be well acquainted before you add the liquid.  If you add the liquid before the ingredients know each other, you may lose some of the yummy flavor.  Basically, when you allow the aromatics to absorb into your ingredients, the liquid will not wash away the flavors, because by then they are stuck to your ingredients.  Got it? Good.

I added about a cup and half of chicken stock.  I didn’t use the measuring cup; I used my eyeballs.  Let the liquid cook down just a little, you want it to get acquainted as well, but if you let it cook for too long it will get soaked in and evaporate from your dish.  No worries, you can always add more liquid.   Once the liquid cooks for about 5 minutes or so, add about a tablespoon of goat cheese, or more if you really like goat cheese.   Strain your pasta and add it to the chicken mixture.

Being the goat cheese lover I am, I also garnished my bowl with it.  Yum!

The Recipe

  • 1 package Dried Pasta
  • 2 whole Shredded Roasted Chicken Breasts
  • ¼ cups Sun Dried Tomatoes (diced Or julienned)
  • 1 Tablespoon Goat Cheese
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 whole Shallot (medium)
  • 1-½ cup Chicken Stock/Broth
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs De Provence
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 dash(es) Salt And Pepper

1. Place a pot of cold water on the oven. Salt (2-3 tablespoons) the water once it is boiling, just before you drop your pasta.
2. While you are waiting for water to boil dice your shallot, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes.
3. Heat your pan, drizzle oil, heat the oil. Drop your shallots and let them sweat down for about a minute. Add your garlic, sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper and about 1 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add chicken and sun dried tomatoes. Let ingredients incorporate for about a minute or two.
5.Add stock slowly as you may not need to use all of it. Add goat cheese (and use more if you really like goat cheese). Let cook for about 5 minutes. Strain pasta and add to chicken mixture. Serve in a bowl and garnish with goat cheese.

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2 Responses to “Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes”

  1. Caroline January 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    I think the pasta also looks like little peppers that have been cored and seeded — yellow, green & orange ones!

    I was thinking of you when I was making French Onion soup the other day. I thought if you were there you would want to take a photo of the color of the onions and the fond (sp?) in the pot before deglazing. 😉

    🙂

    • Natasha January 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

      mmm. I love French onion soup. I would have loved to be there. And I am very fond of fond.

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