Friday, June 22, 2012

Lemony Fusilli with Chicken, Zucchini and Pine Nuts



Chicken AND Zucchini AND Pine Nuts … oh my! (think Wizard of Oz)

Here is a perfect light dinner packed with a ton of flavor and texture, sure to please even the pickiest eater!  I originally came across this recipe a few years ago in fitness magazine, tried it and loved it!

Before we get started, I would like to point out a really important tip when it comes to cooking … ALWAYS read the entire recipe BEFORE you begin to cook.  Sometimes you will find that you either jump the gun and add something you shouldn’t have during a step or in this instance, you will need to reserve part of the cooking water* for later in the recipe.  By not reading, you may miss that or other crucial steps in a recipe. 

Lemony Fusilli with Chicken, Zucchini and Pine Nuts
Ingredients

3 teaspoons salt
8 ounces whole-wheat or white fusilli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small zucchini OR 1 large, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
5 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts - click here for storage tips
1 lemon – zest & juice
small pinch red pepper flakes, about ¼ teaspoon
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
5 large basil leaves, sliced into strips
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

 
TIME SAVER TIP: pre-cut and measure your ingredients for easy access and use.

Directions

Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil; add the fusilli. Cook until al dente, see package instructions. **NOTE: before you drain the pasta save 1/4 cup of the cooking water** (you will need this later)

Meanwhile, in a in a large skillet, over medium/high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the zucchini, scallions, pine nuts, lemon peel, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook, tossing frequently, until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.


Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water and set aside.

 
Using the same pot you boiled the pasta in (saving dishes!), add the remaining olive oil and then add the chicken and remaining salt.  Cook chicken, occasionally stirring, until it is golden brown, about 7-8 minutes.


Once chicken is fully cooked, add fusilli, zucchini and reserved cooking water to the pot. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Squeeze ½ the juice on one lemon over the pot. 

Serve with the basil and Parmesan.

 
Starch-enriched cooking water thickens the sauce
SOURCE: FineCooking

Rinsing the pasta after cooking is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. It can cool the pasta and prevent absorption of a sauce, and it can wash away any remaining surface starch, which at this point in the cooking can work to your advantage. The small amount of starch left on the pasta by the cooking water can thicken your sauce slightly.

For pasta sauces that include egg, like carbonara, it's a good idea to reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water to stir into the sauce. In this case, the starch-enriched water not only thickens the sauce a bit, but it also helps prevent the egg from curdling when it meets the hot pasta.
Dinner is served! Please let me know how much you enjoyed this meal.

Listening to:  Joe Cocker - The Weight (live)
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