Monday, November 28, 2011

The Perfect Weeknight Chicken Pasta {with Mushrooms, Prosciutto, and Spinach}

This dish was not meant to be blogged about (ehem, hence the evening kitchen lighting.) Sometimes, a girl just wants to make her food and eat it. No cameras, no running monologue on how am I going to link this one to whatever holiday or cultural event is on the horizon. Simply, cook, sit, and enjoy.

But one taste of this dish had me running for my camera. My goodness, I told myself, I've finally done it. I've reached weeknight-chicken-pasta perfection.

The key to this little happenstance lies in a secret. Now, let me ask you about secrets. Are they really meant to be kept? For me, not so much. Ah, before you shoot me an evil look, let me clarify. I meant MY secrets. Can't keep 'em. Others, sure, more or keep them coming :)

The secret begins.

For a number of months I've been running. Really running, not merely going for a leisurely jog and telling myself it's running. And with all this time spent running with just my thoughts bouncing away between my ears, I've had time to make plans. First, personal plans, and then came the bloggy plans. Again, these are only secret plans, but I can't bear to keep them in any longer.

The plan started with the idea of a half-marathon this spring. The plan then progressed to a focus on eating to feed my newly increased appetite, and feed it well. The lists then came into formation. Food lists of course. Lists from every running / fitness source on what I should be eating to keep my body in tip-top form. Then the lists were coordinated, adjusted, and merged into a master grocery shopping list. For the last few weeks I've been taking my master list with me to the store and trying to buy nearly everything on it, nearly every week.

I'm not going to lay out the list now, as I promised myself not to mention such plans until they were a bit more concrete. But such promises of self-secrecy never really work with me. So readers will benefit - the ultimate weeknight chicken-pasta. Healthy, seasonal, fast, and super tasty are exactly what I've been looking for. And having a kitchen fully stocked with all my 'running' foods made it happen. It can be prepared in the time it takes me to run 5 miles - under 40 minutes. The main difference, of course, is that I can drink wine when cooking...I think the other runners would frown on me for such an attempt on the trails!

Continue to Recipe...
Recipe: The Perfect Weeknight Chicken Pasta {with Mushrooms, Prosciutto, and Spinach}
Serves 2 

250g penne pasta
1 Tb olive oil
1 chicken breast
1 leek (only the lower white part), or substitute 1/2 cup chopped shallots
2-3 cloves garlic
250g mushrooms, sliced
few leaves fresh oregano (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/2 red chili pepper, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper)
2-3 slices prosciutto crudo
3 large handfuls fresh spinach (75g)
a large splash cream (2 Tb of heavy would be best, but I only had light, and it was just fine)

porcini (or truffle) infused olive oil (a teeny drizzle over top when serving adds quite the flavour!)
fresh Parmesan

1) Start the water boiling for pasta. 

2) Chop up the chicken and leeks. Heat some oil in a pan, toss in the chicken/leeks. Salt and pepper as desired and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, oregano, and Herbs de Provence. Cook another 5-8 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, toss the penne in the boiling water. Add the red chili pepper and prosciutto. Cook 2 mins. Add the spinach. Cook 2 more minutes. Add the drained pasta and stir in the splash of cream. Serve with a bit of porcini olive oil and/or Parmesan.

Dobrou Chut' / Enjoy.
-- Jo


  1. I made this tonight and I loved it. I was a little lazy with my timing, causing the chicken to end up a bit more done than I'd like, but it was tasty regardless. Thanks for posting it!

  2. Love the recipe! I really enjoyed the spice :). I'm also from Wisconsin!

  3. Glad to hear people have made it with success. Especially those of us from Wisco! :D


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