Sunday, June 16, 2013

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Roasted Asparagus

I love fresh asparagus.  Love, love, love.  This week I got it from our local farmer's market, but next year I really want to grow my own.  Did you know asparagus is a weed?  It will grow wild in dry areas.  I just need to find a place to grow it (you need full sun, and I don't have any).

But that's only part of the recipe.

The other part of the recipe is adapted from a recipe for Smokey Garlic Chicken Pasta which you can find below:

Here is the recipe as written:

16 oz. Pasta, any short cut will do
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup butter
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 Tbls pepper
1/2 cup bacon, crumbled
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cup Lawry’s Garlic and Herb Marinade (or Italian Dressing)
1/4 cup Barbeque Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
In a shallow baking dish cover the chicken with the Marinade and Barbeque Sauce.  Bake at 300 for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Shred chicken.
Meanwhile cook the pasta according to package directions.
In a small saucepan melt butter.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add in the half and half, milk, pepper, and cheese.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in the crumbled bacon.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.
In a large bowl mix the chicken, pasta and sauce together.  To serve top with additional cheese if desired.
I never buy half-and-half or skim milk so I figured a cup of 2% would more or less substitute.  But oops!  I forgot to look at how much milk we had, and we were completely out by the time I made this recipe!  So instead I added the last little bit of low-fat sour cream we had in the fridge (maybe 1/3-1/2 cup?) and about a cup of water, and oh my goodness that was the best sauce I've ever tasted!  It may have helped that I used 3 cloves garlic instead of 2 . . . I also really like garlic.  I left out the bacon because we didn't have any, but hey, I did have Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce (my husband's favorite, but the first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup . . . so I'm thinking we need a replacement).
As you can see from my picture, I didn't shred the chicken.  I had half breasts so they still had the bones and skin.  When you cook chicken, the skin can help keep the meat moist.  If you don't want the extra Calories and fat, just peel the skin off after cooking.  Easy peasy.  (Personally, I love the skin.)
Back to the asparagus.  You put fresh asparagus on a baking dish and drizle with olive oil, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  I don't know what the amounts are, just eyeball it.  Cook at 400 for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Or, you can be like me and put it in with the chicken.  It just takes a little bit longer that way and may not get crispy (I took the chicken out and turned up the oven for the last 5 minutes or so to make up for it).
This was an amazingly delicious meal!  Also, it was a lesson in the rule that cooking is a forgiving art - you don't always have to follow the recipe 100% to get good results (with certain exceptions, but I don't usually make those kinds of food).  I am still learning to experiment in the kitchen but this was fun!